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.