The Protect Coyote Valley campaign is a coalition of several environmental groups all committed to defending Coyote Valley from encroaching development. This week we’re highlighting Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, a nonprofit that “provides leadership to bring related community groups and public agencies affiliated with Coyote Creek to take action towards restoring the creek through cleanups and plantings, recreational and cultural activities, and educational partnerships”.
Founder Deb Kramer started with river cleanups (Coyote Creek is a misnomer–it’s actually a river) before realizing that more community engagement was needed to have a chance at improving ecological health. Now, the comprehensive programming offered by Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful engages a broader swath of people and has been engaging families with young children about the unique ecosystem through events like the recent October 7 Bioblitz.
A BioBlitz is a form of service learning in which participants photograph wildlife in a particular area and add them to an online database called iNaturalist, available as a mobile application and via a website. Areas like Coyote Meadows had virtually no digitally-recorded species prior to the BioBlitzes hosted by KCCB. Now, a picture of the local flora and fauna is developing into a real resource for global scientists–and an excellent opportunity for kids to explore and take pictures of plants, insects, and other wildlife.
Asked about the strangest objects found during creek cleanups, Deb Kramer says “two home safes.” Given that the creek was “used as a dumping ground for 50 or 60 years,” there’s quite a backlog of oddities–the social media accounts of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful often feature themed collections of objects that have made their way into the creek, such as an array of bouncy balls.
For all the hard work of volunteers and the education campaigns, Kramer is ambivalent about the possibility of creating a healthy creek. As long as there are homeless encampments along the creek and people living on the margins make it their place of residence, Kramer believes the creek cannot “move to a restoration phase”. The path will be steep even once a housing solution is found; it may take 15 to 20 years for the creek to recover even after unimpeded restoration.
But for now, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful is helping to preserve the lands in and around Coyote Valley and educating the public about the river’s importance. Asked what two things she would tell the public, Kramer emphasizes that Coyote Creek is a large and vibrant wildlife corridor that deserves to be enjoyed and explored, and reminds us that there is hope, and with time and effort the creek can be brought back to a healthy state.
If you want to join Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful at an event soon, join a creek cleanup, BioBlitz or walk by visiting the website at KeepCoyoteCreekBeautiful.org.
About Protect Coyote Valley
The Protect Coyote Valley campaign is led by Committee for Green Foothills and supported by Greenbelt Alliance, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, SAGE — Sustainable Agriculture Education, and the Land Trust of Santa Clara Valley. It aims to preserve Coyote Valley, San Jose as open space that offers flood-buffering wetlands, an essential wildlife habitat and migratory area, and active farmlands.