Good news! Soon, we hope to be celebrating the conservation of over six hundred acres of hillside land at the southern end of Coyote Valley. This land contains rare and endangered plant species as well as critical habitat for the endangered Bay checkerspot butterfly. This is a big win for the Protect Coyote Valley effort!
The Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency recently signed a $6.5 million Purchase and Sale Agreement to acquire 604 acres of what are known as the Baird Parcels of Tilton Ranch. These parcels, located in the hillside on the urban edge of Morgan Hill by Hale Avenue, contain a significant amount of serpentine bunchgrass, a rare and critical habitat for the endangered Bay checkerspot butterfly. The property also has Coyote ceanothus, a federally endangered shrub.
Endangered species mitigation for Anderson Dam
The presence of Coyote ceanothus prompted the Santa Clara Valley Water District to fund the purchase as required advance mitigation for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit project. Our region’s 50 year endangered species Habitat Plan, that the Habitat Agency plays a major role in implementing, requires acquisition or creation of a Coyote ceanothus population prior to reconstruction of the dam to mitigate for the plants displaced by the retrofit.
The funds came from Valley Water’s Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program; specifically, the Priority D7 project that supports implementation of the Valley Habitat Plan. In addition to the necessary mitigation for Anderson Dam, the purchase of the Baird Parcel will allow the Habitat Agency to achieve 20% of the Habitat Plan’s Coyote ceanothus species protection requirement.
A significant return on our advocacy
The purchase reflects not only the trustworthy and fruitful relationship the Habitat Agency built with the landowners, but also the years of our advocacy that provided the foundation for this acquisition. Several of the Protect Coyote Valley partners participated in the creation of the Habitat Plan over a ten year period and strongly advocated for its adoption by the Plan’s co-permittees: the cities of San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy, the County of Santa Clara, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. The Habitat Plan ensures protection, enhancement, and restoration of our local ecosystem for threatened and endangered species.
Our efforts to raise awareness of the ecological importance of Coyote Valley and protect this incredible landscape from harmful development continues to bear fruit. We look forward to the close of the sale of the Baird Parcels which is anticipated by year end. We will certainly let you know once it is finalized so we can all celebrate another critical win in the fight to preserve this valley.