There is nothing permanent except change.
The work of protecting open space is constant. Losses to development are typically forever; the permanent protection of land is just the first step in an ongoing process of restoration and stewardship. Conservation is a long game.
With projected continued population growth in the valley and climate change already changing temperature and rainfall patterns, it is our responsibility to plan our communities and landscapes to provide resilience to this change.
Protecting Coyote Valley as a large, interconnected landscape, with a focus on water resources, can build resilience that will allow both natural and human communities to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. This is why Coyote Valley continues to be a focus of the Authority’s efforts – it is a last-chance landscape, the protection of which can yield a wide range benefits including clean water, flood protection, wildlife connectivity, recreation, and climate resilience.
In a landmark public-private conservation deal, the Authority, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), and the City of San Jose this year purchased 937 acres in North Coyote Valley, an area that includes the South Bay’s largest remaining freshwater wetland, Laguna Seca, and significant undeveloped natural floodplains upstream of San Jose.
This investment was possible because of decades of advocacy to prevent development in Coyote Valley, and San Jose’s recent passage of Measure T, a $650 million infrastructure bond that recognizes the natural infrastructure benefits of Coyote Valley, and included up to $50 million for land acquisition in Coyote Valley for natural flood control and environmental quality.
Few conservation deals have been done at this scale, and San Jose is one of the first cities in the nation to significantly invest infrastructure funding in nature-based solutions to address flood risk reduction, water supply, and water quality benefits to its human and natural communities.
This year the importance of Coyote Valley received statewide recognition with Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of AB 948, introduced by Assemblymember Ash Kalra from San Jose. The bill recognizes Coyote Valley as a landscape of significant importance for its natural infrastructure benefits, and established the Coyote Valley Conservation Program, to be administered by the Authority.
This kind of long-term thinking is key to adapting to change of all kinds – from population growth to climate change. The Authority and our many partners look to the future with all of our projects this year – from land acquisition and restoration to environmental education and improved public access. I would like to thank the many volunteers and state, regional, and local community partners who play critical roles in this work.
By anticipating and planning for the inevitable change, we can ensure that current and future residents of the valley can enjoy the beauty, recreational opportunities, and myriad benefits of our protected open space lands – the lands that make this valley such a special place to live and work.
Also at Rancho, more than 200 freshman from San Jose’s Harker School spent a day removing debris and helping widen a 1.25 mile-long section of the Mayfair Ranch Trail, making it safer for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. As part of the day of service learning, the students learned about the history of local Native Americans, plants, and wildlife in activities led by their teachers, Open Space Authority staff, and volunteer docents.
The Open Space Authority is primarily funded by a benefit assessment and an annual $24 parcel tax, Measure Q, with additional funding from grants and gifts. Financial reports and audits are released after the close of each fiscal year, and are available here.