$16 Million Acquisition Finalizes Protection of 937 Acres with Support from California’s Wildlife Conservation Board and State Coastal Conservancy
SAN JOSÉ, Calif. (August 3, 2020) – On August 5, 2020 Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority) and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the completed purchase of a 235-acre parcel in the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area.
The $16 million purchase is supported by $15 million in new funding from two state agencies: $5 million from the California State Coastal Conservancy and $10 million from the Wildlife Conservation Board. POST contributed the remaining $1 million. The property was previously owned by longtime South Bay real estate developer, The Sobrato Organization, and was slated for industrial development.
In November 2019, a public-private partnership among POST, the Authority and the City of San Jose established the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area, which combines multiple properties previously targeted for industrial development into a protected environmental greenbelt. The 235-acre parcel is the last of three key properties that comprise the initial 937-acre portion of the new conservation area.
North Coyote Valley is a critical wildlife linkage between the Santa Cruz and Diablo mountain ranges. This “last chance landscape” features natural floodplains and wildlife habitats. Permanently protecting it helps mitigate potential flooding impact from extreme weather events and builds climate change resiliency for the citizens of the tenth-largest city in the nation.
“The conservation and restoration of Coyote Valley is a long-term effort with long-term positive impacts for all who live here,” said Walter T. Moore, president of POST. “It would not have been possible without the collaboration and commitment to smart land use by two of our longtime close partners, the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board.”
California State Assembly member Ash Kalra, who represents the 27th Assembly District that includes Coyote Valley, authored AB 948, which in late 2019 was signed into law and designated Coyote Valley as a landscape of statewide significance and created the Coyote Valley Conservation Program that the Authority now administers.
“I commend everyone for collaborating to bring resources to the table to complete this important transaction. Coyote Valley is vital to our local defense against climate change,” said Assemblymember Kalra, “This is a game-changing model for the state to move toward, ending the decades-long urban sprawl mentality. It speaks to the broad public support for preserving and restoring precious resources throughout California.”
“The conservation of Coyote Valley hits a real sweet spot for the Coastal Conservancy,” stated Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy. “Investing in regionally important habitat linkages is critically important to California’s future under climate change.”
“The conservation of Coyote Valley advances every goal the Wildlife Conservation Board was established to support,” said John P. Donnelly, executive director of WCB. “We are pleased to be able to support this critical project that significantly expands protected habitat in our state We commend all the partners for their long-term vision and commitment to fulfilling it.”
“This significant investment by the state reflects the statewide importance of protecting this landscape. These agencies recognize the many conservation benefits there are in Coyote Valley for wildlife and the people of California,” said Matt Freeman, Assistant General Manager of the Open Space Authority.
Coyote Valley Conservation History and Background
Previously slated for up to 6.6 million square feet of industrial development, the North Coyote Valley is a critical landscape and wildlife linkage between the Santa Cruz and Diablo mountain ranges. It contains the South Bay’s largest remaining freshwater wetland, Laguna Seca, and natural floodplains upstream of San Jose. These will help reduce flood risk when fully restored. Additionally, strategic conservation in Coyote Valley provides significant new opportunities for outdoor recreation and supports local agriculture.
Work to restore Coyote Valley’s floodplain capacity and wildlife habitat has already begun. Essential creekside habitat, on a nearby property acquired by POST back in 2017 called Fisher’s Bend, is now undergoing restoration. This past May, the Authority led an extensive cleanup of this parcel, removing garbage and highly invasive plants to improve stream flows and wildlife habitat.
Next steps: Community-based Planning Process
Alongside key partners, POST and the City of San Jose, the Open Space Authority is leading a science and community-based planning process to establish an open space preserve of statewide and national significance. This regional destination will protect the environment and provide lasting climate resilience, while creating a public asset that aligns nature with human connection and inclusion. The Authority will be gathering public input from all communities to design a space that belongs to the community. To kick off this process, the Authority invites members of the community to share their stories and connections to Coyote Valley
“With this strategic purchase in North Coyote Valley, we can move forward with restoring this last chance landscape and focus our efforts on creating a world-class open space for all,” said Andrea Mackenzie, general manager for the Authority. “We want to get everyone involved in our community-based planning process and encourage you to tell us your stories about Coyote Valley and what you love about this special place.”
POST is continuing to raise funds in support of the work in Coyote Valley. Details are available at openspacetrust.org/coyote-valley-program.