Coyote Valley
Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage

Conservation for a Resilient Future

Nestled between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range, Coyote Valley is the vital connection between these two mountain ranges, allowing wildlife to migrate, find mates, and adapt to climate change. Recent scientific studies have documented animal movement in the Coyote Valley. These species depend on Coyote Valley as a corridor to move between mountain ranges, in order to maintain genetic diversity and overall ecological health.

Water resources also play an important role in Coyote Valley, as storm waters spread into open spaces, reducing the peak flows in Coyote Creek downstream. These waters also replenish groundwater into a basin that supplies more than half of Santa Clara Valley’s drinking water.

In order to establish a clear vision of a functional land connection for wildlife and protected water resources, the Open Space Authority assembled a team of scientists, hydrologists, and conservation planners to design a landscape linkage for Coyote Valley. The linkage report identifies the necessary essential elements for protecting and restoring a broad and resilient landscape linkage; one that can sustain biodiversity and facilitate wildlife movement in the face of a changing climate.

  • A focus on northern Coyote Valley, where the two mountain ranges are the closest, as the most important crossing point for wildlife and with the largest intact floodplain and aquifer recharge zones
  • Fisher Creek, a tributary to Coyote Creek that already supports wildlife movement across the Valley and is the centerpiece of the landscape linkage design
  • Laguna Seca, the County’s largest freshwater wetland slows storm waters and serves as habitat for rare amphibians and a wide range of birds and waterfowl, including many stopping along the Pacific Flyway
  • Tulare Hill, at the northern tip of Coyote Valley, sports terrain dense with sensitive species, and serves as a bridge for the threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly

The Open Space Authority is leading a collaborative conservation effort that will benefit plants, wildlife, and the resilience of our entire region. These efforts will include working with willing landowners to help protect Coyote Valley’s natural and agricultural landscape and designing with transportation and wildlife agencies to implement safe wildlife crossings across roads. Our partners are vital to this landscape linkage design.

We welcome review and feedback of the public draft of this document. Feedback can be submitted to until August 31, 2017.

Download the Landscape Linkage Brochure

Download the Landscape Linkage Report

Download Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage Press Release (6/15/17)

Download Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage Map


The Science Team

Galli Basson, M.S.
Tanya Diamond, M.S.
Matt Freeman, M.C.R.P.
Sasha Gennet, Ph.D.
Morgan Gray, Ph.D.
Lynne Trulio, Ph.D.

Robin Grossinger, M.S.
Nicole Heller, Ph.D.
Dave Johnston, B.S.
Jodi McGraw, Ph.D.
Adina Merenlender, Ph.D.
Stuart Weiss, Ph.D.

Jim Robins, M.S.
S. Bry Sarté, PE, LEED AP
Neal Sharma, MLA
Jake Smith, M.S.
Jim Stritthold, Ph.D.
Ahiga Snyder
Chris Wilmers, Ph.D.


Coyote Valley—Water and Wildlife on NBC Bay Area’s Openroad with Doug McConnell


Coyote Valley Bobcat and Gray Fox Connectivity Study

Researchers are using advanced technology to track and protect the wildlife that call Santa Clara Valley home. The attachment of radio-collars to bobcats and gray foxes will allow researchers to map and analyze animal movement through Coyote Valley. The findings will provide details on where these animals move, what paths they are using, and which habitats they prefer. This data will enable the Open Space Authority and its partners to make well-informed decisions about where to locate wildlife crossings to provide safe passage for these animals. Check back here for updates and a final report of the study.

Coyote Valley Linkages Assessment Study

Through the use of wildlife cameras, computer modeling, and peer-reviewed scientific studies*, the Coyote Valley Linkages Assessment study confirmed in early 2016 that Coyote Valley provides an important land link between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range for the movement of wildlife.

The Coyote Valley floor is an essential travel route for many wildlife species, ranging from small to large mammals. However, a number of barriers and land uses restrict wildlife movement. With the goal of preserving and enhancing Coyote Valley as a critical wildlife linkage, the report contains the following recommendations:

  • Remove barriers including fences and blocked culverts to allow safe passage for wildlife
  • Maintain the habitat values and characteristics on Coyote Valley lands for compatibility with wildlife movement
  • Work with the High Speed Rail Authority to ensure that future rail alignments and crossing structures are coordinated with crossing structures on Highway 101
  • Maintain agricultural land use wherever possible instead of industrial use of Coyote Valley
Download the Coyote Valley Linkages Assessment Study Report.

* Critical Linkages: Bay Area and Beyond 2013, Bay Area Critical Linkages Project, and the Santa Cruz Mountains Linkages Project