Conservationists Launch Effort to Preserve Coyote Valley

A large contingent of conservationists kicked off a campaign Nov. 2 to permanently preserve Coyote Valley—which serves as a buffer of open space between Morgan Hill and San Jose—from the threat of future development.

Backed by an environmental conservation grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a coalition led by the Committee for Green Foothills and Greenbelt Alliance have set out to defend Coyote Valley’s natural resources, including flood control, wildlife habitat and rich farmland.

“We are on a mission to save Coyote Valley from sprawling development,” said Megan Medeiros, executive director of CGF. “We know San Jose and Silicon Valley residents are with us. We’re very grateful to the Moore Foundation for their support in helping us to mobilize action

to preserve this remarkable place.”

Located within the southern reaches of San Jose down to the northernmost parts of Morgan Hill, Coyote Valley has been targeted for the expansion of the City of San Jose since the 1970’s. In particular, technology company campuses, warehouses and distribution centers have eyed the valley for growth, according to organizers.

“Most of these efforts have been thwarted, but the valley is still under threat,” according to CGF. “The Moore Foundation grants are far-reaching in helping to achieve a strong conservation outcome.”

The Moore Foundation’s Environmental Conservation Program “balances long-term conservation with sustainable use” in an effort to “protect critical ecosystems.” The program has distributed nearly $1.4 billion across 1,125 grants.

The Committee for Green Foothills and Greenbelt Alliance has partnered with Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, SAGE and Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful in their new campaign, which kicked off Nov. 2 with a new website and funding. The purpose is “to permanently protect Coyote through a three-fold strategy of advocacy, research and community mobilization.”

According to the new website, protectcoyotevalley.org, Coyote Valley is considered an inclusive wildlife corridor for the region, a secure source of drinking water and natural flood protection and a proud heritage of local agriculture. It is home to more than 215 species of birds, 1,000 acres of wetlands and 4,000 acres of farmland in production.

“I am encouraged to see this kind of proactive engagement that conserves our important open spaces,” said Sergio Jimenez, city council member for San Jose’s District 2, which encompasses Coyote Valley. “There is a new vision for Coyote Valley that bolsters resilience to climate change and protects San Jose residents from flooding while caring for the Valley’s natural resources rather than old ideas such as sprawling development.”

Timeline of events to preserve Coyote Valley

June 2015: Santa Clara Open Space Authority (OSA) opened the 348-acre Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, located on Palm Avenue just north of Morgan Hill. Later that same year, OSA acquired the 1,831-acre Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve.

2016: Committee for Green Foothills, Greenbelt Alliance, Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter and the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society launched a campaign to prevent a proposed 30-acre warehouse development in Northern Coyote Valley from moving forward, ultimately supporting the property owner’s decision to sell their land for conservation purposes. This property was subsequently purchased by Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) in June 2017.

May 2017: Santa Clara Open Space Authority purchased 52 acres near the Santa Teresa foothills.

October 2017: POST purchased another 63-acre property at the intersection of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Richmond Avenue in the mid-Coyote Valley, near the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve.

This article originally appeared in the Morgan Hill Times.

 

9 Comments

  1. Retaining the last vestige of the valley’s agricultural heritage is a good thing to do. Preserving Coyote Valley from rampant development is also good for a lot of other reasons, many of which are listed here.

  2. Did the Housing crisis subside? I guess our agricultural heritage is more important than giving people an affordable place to live. Can’t complain about high rent from one side of your mouth than sing the NIMBY song out the other…

    • The Santa Clara Valley has already been entirely sacrificed for urban development. There is plenty of opportunity to build housing in Silicon Valley particularly upward but it must be planned carefully if we are going to protect our economy and quality of life. If the bay area is to remain a desirable place to live, it must protect its watersheds, air quality, open space, recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty. We have protected hills and forests ONLY because of diligent work of conservationist who are now focusing on this last valley. People need housing but also clean water, food, etc. Having open space and working lands is the most cost effective way to provide these services, https://www.openspaceauthority.org/system/documents/NaturesValue_SCC_int.pdf. There are many reasons to protect Coyote Valley, https://www.openspaceauthority.org/system/documents/CoyoteValleyLandscapeLinkage.14June2017.DRAFT.pdf.

    • Housing Crisis? If we develop CV it will not alleviate the housing crises on bit. The only ones who will be able to afford the new homes that would be built there are foreign investors and those new homes would be filled by newly arriving H-1B immigrants. San Jose needs to build up at the city core and around existing transit points in the existing city.

  3. > A large contingent of conservationists kicked off a campaign Nov. 2 to permanently preserve Coyote Valley—which serves as a buffer of open space between Morgan Hill and San Jose—from the threat of future development.

    I am both a capitalist and a conservationist. In fact, I believe that capitalism is inherently conservationist, as contrasted with tribalist forager-ism which is inherently focused on consumption.

    It is almost completely unrecognized, but one of the consequences of the Neolithic Revolution (herding and agriculture) was the development of “double entry accounting”, i.e. costs versus benefits. Foragers (and their modern era heirs) are concerned ONLY with “benefits” and never think about the “costs” of anything.

    “Low income (subsidized) housing? How wonderful! It benefits so many people”. But does it cost anything? Who cares?

    I believe that the preservation of selected and truly spectacular natural sites is a good thing, but it should be done ONLY on the basis unique and extraordinary natural attributes.

    A vigilant public needs to safeguard this “rule of exceptionality” to prevent the perversion of the practice of public conservation into a scheme for private benefit.

    A number of years ago, an “open space advocate” approached one of my in-laws and asked him to “donate” a parcel of land to an “open space district” for “public enjoyment, education, nature, blah, blah, blah”. One of the reasons that the “advocate” failed to mention was that the donated parcel adjoined her property and would have enhanced the value of her property significantly by preventing future development next to her house, providing her a vast, extended back yard.

    I strongly suspect that most conservation/preservation/open-space proposals pitched to the public are more driven by scheming property owners or real estate developers than they are justified by “extraordinary natural attributes”.

    Bottom line: I think we have WAY, WAY too much “open space” in the bay area, particularly open space that is NOT exceptionally spectacular but benefits private interests.

    Preservation of Coyote Valley MIGHT be justified, but the case MUST BE MADE openly with all cards on the table and must be based SOLELY on “extraordinary natural attributes.”

  4. Environmentalism and preservationism have a hard enough time competing with the constant “housing crisis” drumbeat that we’ve unnecessarily allowed to dictate the way our City develops. When there’s a rare opportunity to thwart this juggernaut let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. I believe Coyote Valley does pass the “extraordinary natural attributes” test but then, I’d be in favor of preserving it even even if it didn’t.

    • > Environmentalism and preservationism . . . .

      I hope you’re not equating “environmentalism” with conservation. POLAR OPPOSITES!

      Conservation: man protects his future

      Environmentalism: politicians take control of man’s future by confiscating his land and livelihood.

  5. You want to preserve the Valley fine rip out all the freeway, roads, farms, golf courses etc. Turn it into a park. But don’t ever tell me again land and housing are too expensive here. Yes it’s pritty little valley, but so was the rest of the south bay at one time. Now you want to dump another couple of million people from all parts of the world that want affordable housing. Well there it lie’s my friends. Or you can tear down what you got and turn it into Manhattan by going up.
    So glad I’m leaving!

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