Photo Credit: Derek Neumann
May 27, 2020

Coyote Valley: A last chance landscape

Essential habitat in Santa Clara County, California protected in perpetuity

Coyote Valley endures as one of the last flat, undeveloped landscapes remaining in Santa Clara County, California. Located within one of the world’s top 25 most essential biodiversity hotspots (the California Floristic Province), Coyote Valley resides on the south side of San Jose, California, nested between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountain Ranges. 


In addition to providing recreation, flood protection, and climate resilience, Coyote Valley also provides refuge for a handful of rare species, including the Metcalf Canyon jewel flower (Streptanthus albidus), the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), and the darling of famous biologist, Paul Ehrlich, the stunning Bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis).


Coyote Valley is also home to larger species, such as mountain lions (Puma concolor), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and of course coyotes (Canis latrans), all of which require large territories for survival. The Valley provides critical habitat connectivity for species movement between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountains, which encompass 1.13+ million acres of core habitat.


In 2017, in partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, CBI assembled a team of local and regional scientists with the goal of integrating existing scientific information and knowledge to develop a vision and practical plan for achieving a fully functional landscape linkage through the Coyote Valley. The goal was to avoid isolating the two mountain ranges while protecting extremely important valley floor species and habitats.

The 2017 report identified North Coyote Valley as the critical landscape linkage between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountain ranges, as it allows wildlife to migrate and adapt to a changing climate. The developed plan included restoration of important wetland and uplands habitats, support for numerous rare and sensitive species, and protection of important water and agricultural resources.

Two years later, on November 6, 2019, it was announced that 937 acres of critical habitat in North Coyote Valley will now be protected in perpetuity. From the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority website (11/6/19): 

“Today, the San Jose City Council unanimously approved the protection of 937 acres of open space in North Coyote Valley, through an innovative partnership between Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (Authority), and the City of San Jose. This landmark conservation transaction will permanently protect wildlife habitat, natural floodplains and water quality, and build resilience to climate change for residents in the 10th largest city in the nation.”

By providing scientific expertise and analyses for the 2017 report, CBI is proud to have played a critical role in this historic conservation land acquisition.

*Banner photo and the last photo provided by Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.


Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage

The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, in partnership with CBI, assembled a team of local and regional scientists to develop a vision for a resilient multi-benefit landscape.

Read more

About the author:
Gwynne Corrigan, M.S.
Director of Communications
Gwynne is the Director of Communications with CBI, and is also involved with a variety of projects doing outreach, communications, research and writing. Her educational background is in ecology and biology with a particular interest in endangered species.
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