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News from Coyote Valley, a “Last Chance Landscape”

July 19, 2017

 

Originally published on June 29, 2017:

Located along San Jose’s southernmost edge, Coyote Valley is considered to be one of the Bay Area’s most important and last remaining undeveloped valley floors. This critical linkage and biodiversity hotspot, which has narrowly avoided major development plans many times over the course of three-plus decades, was recently marked by a series of significant accomplishments in an ongoing effort to preserve this incredible at-risk landscape.

Photo credit: Stephen Joseph, courtesy of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

 

Both the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (SCVOSA) and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) celebrated these accomplishments alongside numerous partnering organizations’ who worked together to reach the following series of milestones:

On June 15, in collaboration with over a dozen scientists, hydrologists, conservation planners, and many partner organizations, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (SCVOSA) published the Draft Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage report. This research provides compelling findings that make the case for protecting the 7000+ acre valley. It articulates the essential elements needed to protect and restore a broad and resilient landscape linkage, resulting in a healthier, more climate-resilient region. It outlines the important role that the valley plays in replenishing groundwater into a basin that supplies more than half of Santa Clara Valley’s drinking water. And it also offers the big picture necessary to opening up a dialogue with people who own private land within the valley.

In conjunction with SCVOSA’s report, POST acquired its first property in Coyote Valley— a 30-acre tract of land near Fisher Creek. The land within the property has been identified as a significant passageway for wildlife. This linkage is essential for wide-ranging animals such as gray foxes, bobcats, and mountain lions to be able to move between core habitat areas. With the effects of climate change, it will also benefit a host of other wildlife, plants, and natural communities to adapt and respond to changing conditions and allow them to seek more hospitable conditions.

The property was purchased from the Panattoni Development Company based in Newport Beach for $5.8 million. It had been slated for development into a 414,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center where companies such as Amazon could ship orders. This landmark purchase illustrates POST’s commitment to working with willing sellers to buy land and development rights. It also establishes a message to other landowners that the organization will pay full fair market value for their land (New $80 million plan to preserve San Jose’s Coyote Valley).

Photo courtesy of Alisha Maniglia, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

These two achievements were borne from members of the regional land conservation community working together to create a new form of partnership. The number of organizations involved was impressive and yielded successes and working relationships that wouldn’t have otherwise developed in isolation.

Stuart Weiss, Ph.D., who serves as the Science Advisor for the Bay Area Open Space Council’s Conservation Lands Network was a contributing science team member on the report. He remarked upon how the report relates to regional goals:

“This vision epitomizes the motto of the Conservation Lands Network – “Think Big, Connect More.”  We’ve “thought big” in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Mt. Hamilton Range with hundreds of thousands of acres of permanently protected open space.  Now the painstaking business of “connecting more” is upon us, by conserving and restoring a lastchance valley floor landscape and providing essential safe passage for wildlife.”

For the full list of science team members, click here.
To see what partnering organizations were involved in the report , click here.

The release of the report and land purchase are both great news for Coyote Valley. But there are still 1,400 acres of unprotected land in North Coyote Valley alone, and new proposals for warehouses, distribution centers, or data centers could come forward any day (Great News for Coyote Valley, New Report, Committee for Green Foothills).

So what can you do right now in support of Coyote Valley?

 

Thank you for all that you do to support the health and vitality of our region’s lands.

Photo credit: Derek Neumann, courtesy of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

 

Jenkins, C. N., K.S. Van Houtan, S.L. Pimm, and J.O. Sexton. 2015. US protected lands mismatch biodiversity priorities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(16): 5081- 5086.