Total Acres: 5,575
Total Expenditures: $9,157,719
The northern part of the Upper Coyote study area encompasses the first ridges of the Diablo Range east of Coyote Creek between Anderson and Coyote lakes. Henry W. Coe State Park lies directly east of these lands. The hilly terrain in the southern portion of the study area is bounded on the west by the valley floor and includes Cañada de los Osos in the southeast.
The rugged terrain of the Upper Coyote region is characterized by deep, wooded canyons, rolling grassy hills dotted with large oak trees, and stands of chaparral on steep slopes. Several of the plant communities found here, including coast live oak-blue oak woodlands, riparian forests and annual grasslands, are rapidly disappearing from the California landscape.
The area has a rich history of ranching that reaches back to the early days of settlement. Names of some of the early Mexican ranchos, including La Polka, San Ysidro and Las Animas, are still used in the area. And cattle still graze on OSA lands. Managing their presence is an important part of maintaining and improving plant and water resources.
The lands of the Upper Coyote study area are divided between two watersheds. Coyote Creek drains the northern portion, flowing south through a steep canyon on the eastern boundary then looping west and north toward Coyote Lake. Several creeks in the southern part of the study area are located in the primary watershed for the Pajaro River, which flows toward Monterey Bay.
The Open Space Authority has protected over 5,000 acres in this area. The largest property connects Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park and Henry Coe State Park. The Doan Ranch lies along San Ysidro Creek near Highway 152. OSA also contributed to a conservation easement on 1,388 acres and facilitated the purchase and transfer of the historic Jackson Sisters Ranch to the county Department of Parks and Recreation.
In 1999 the Open Space Authority partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to purchase the 9,234-acre Lakeview Meadows Ranch. The property, which ran along the western border of Henry Coe State Park, was a treasure trove of species diversity.
Valley oak and blue oak woodlands, riparian forests, coastal scrub and chaparral shelter complex communities of insects, birds, and mammals. Black-tailed deer, mountain lions and a variety of raptors including golden eagles, prairie falcons, and red-shouldered hawks have all been seen there.
Ten naturally occurring springs and numerous seeps and other wetlands are potential habitat for several at-risk species: western pond turtles (Clemmys marmorata), California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) and California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense). Foothill yellow-legged frogs (Rana boylii) have been sighted in Coyote Creek and an alluvial floodplain dotted with ancient sycamore trees.
The ridges, rising in some areas to around 2,800 feet, provided panoramic views of the valley floor and are themselves the western viewshed for Henry Coe State Park. The Authority took ownership of 3,207 acres, stretching between the state park and Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park. Several years later TNC sold an additional 240 acres to the Authority and the remainder to the state for inclusion in Henry Coe State Park.
In another collaborative action, OSA purchased the 38-acre Jackson Ranch from the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County for resale to the county Department of Parks and Recreation. The property was the last remnant of about 5,500 acres the Jackson family farmed for several generations, growing apricots, plums and prunes and grazing cattle.
The ranch buildings include a Victorian farmhouse built in 1904, barns, drying sheds and a bunk house. The house originally stood on the banks of Coyote Creek but was condemned in the 1950s and moved when Anderson Lake Reservoir was built. The purchase and resale of the property will enable the development of a historic site that can tell the story of the valley’s ranching heritage.
The area has high potential for maintaining uninterrupted wildlife corridors and preserving significant riparian and watershed resources. Preservation will protect habitat for California red-legged frogs, California tiger salamanders, foothill yellow-legged frogs, western pond turtles and Coast Range newts (Taricha torosa torosa).
The acquisitions will also preserve the very visible ridgeline and offer potential trail connections to Henry Coe State Park and other public lands.