Coyote Valley is an ecological and agricultural treasure in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a critical wildlife habitat/corridor, providing natural flood protection and a secure source of drinking water.

To the south of San Jose, California lies a beloved but vulnerable stretch of open space. Bordered by Morgan Hill to the south, the Diablo Range to the east, and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west, Coyote Valley is a 7,400-acre expanse of pastoral fields and verdant floodplains.

Development pressures threaten the valley's existence 

Today, development is encroaching on this open space. At the same time, momentum is building to protect Coyote Valley—safeguarding the remaining open space and ensuring it can continue to support regional wildlife and biodiversity, flourish as an agricultural hub, improve water storage and help recharge groundwater for the Santa Clara Valley. 

In the 19th century, the valley was still a blend of wetlands, streams, grasslands and oak woodlands, as it had been for generations. As settlements in the area increased, local farmers began cultivating crops that thrived in seasonally wet conditions, and over time, much of the land was converted to farms, ranches, and orchards.

By the latter half of the 20th century, San Jose’s population was burgeoning. It surpassed Oakland by 1970, San Francisco in 1990 and has reached roughly 1,000,000 today. Along with that growth came demand for proximate urban development and expansion. Beginning in the 1970s, Coyote Valley became an increasingly attractive location for industry seeking new land for corporate campuses, distribution centers and warehouses.

This treasure today

Thankfully, Coyote Valley remains largely intact today, with its ecological integrity now critical for the region’s agriculture, wildlife and water resources. Wildlife—from larger predators like bobcats and coyotes to birds including burrowing owls and tri-colored blackbirds—rely on the valley as a habitat as well as a corridor for migration between mountain ranges.

The valley boasts more than 215 species of birds, 1,000 acres of wetlands, and 4,000 acres of productive farmland.

The local community now recognizes the valley’s significant role in mitigating floods, as it captures and stores stormwater in a way that impermeable surfaces such as concrete cannot. Coyote Valley’s farmland yield represents 30 percent of Santa Clara County’s agricultural activity and value, providing a source of locally-grown food as well as a carbon block.


Help us spread the word.

If you know someone who is interested in this field or what we are doing at the foundation, pass it along.

Get Involved
Article continues after image

Land worth conserving

We recognize the ecological and geographic importance of Coyote Valley. Our San Francisco Bay Area Program aims to preserve the area’s special character, and through our local conservation funding, safeguard and enhance habitat for the region’s native plant and animal species. Now, a collaboration has formed to help Protect Coyote Valley, and the alliance of organizations together represent 100,000 members and supporters in Santa Clara County.

"Coyote Valley has been threatened by development for decades. What it offers is irreplaceable: wetlands that buffer against flooding, an essential wildlife habitat and migratory area, active farmlands, and open space for all of us to enjoy."

-Protect Coyote Valley

While irreplaceable, Coyote Valley is under significant threat. The land is almost entirely privately owned, and, according to Greenbelt Alliance’s 2017 At Risk Report, 50 percent of the valley is at risk of development and urban sprawl.

“It is essential that we protect Coyote Valley for the health of our entire region,” says Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. “The only way that will happen is if our communities stand up and demand it.”

Local non-profits and their partners have been working to address this through key acquisitions, but more work remains to protect the valley from being transformed into another maze of concrete and cars.

The ultimate vision? To protect “the key ecological resources in the valley that support regional biodiversity and improve water storage and groundwater recharge for Santa Clara Valley.”

You can help stand up for Coyote Valley here


Play Icon Play Icon

Related Stories