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Photo by Tom Grey

Conservation Corner January/February 2017

by Shani Kleinhaus, SCVAS Environmental Advocate

 

Great news for wildlife and open space: Winfield Project in San Jose dropped! Our advocacy team worked closely with Almaden Valley residents to oppose a housing and trail development on designated open space on a hillside near Almaden Lake. This land, at the edge of the city’s boundary, was designated private open space in the 1980’s and is used by deer, California Quail and other wildlife species as a corridor for moving from the Santa Teresa Foothills to Almaden Valley. Changing the land use designation to public open space and residential housing would have significantly degraded the beautiful views of the hillside from Almaden Lake Park and Alamitos Creek Trail. In addition, we felt that protecting the wildlife habitat and corridor was far more important than public access everywhere. Our comment letters, advocacy with decision makers, and over 1200 signatures on a petition helped support San Jose staff position and convince the Planning Commission that this project should not proceed. The applicant dropped the application and we are hopeful that the wildlife in this area will remain protected from any inappropriate development.

 

Continuing the fight to protect Coyote Valley: 

  • • SCVAS staff and volunteers (thank you!) attended a public scoping meeting for the proposed Blanchard Rd. (Panattoni) Warehouse Project that would consume thirty acres of North Coyote Valley. We also submitted scoping comments regarding potential impacts on birds, creeks, and wildlife corridors.
  • • The 2011 General Plan allocated 50,000 jobs for North Coyote Valley, an unrealistic number for the area and one that could lead to widespread industrial development. In its four-year General Plan Review, the City recommends reducing job allocation to 35,000. Along with other organizations, we have asked the City to adhere to its task force recommendation of 20,000 jobs, explaining that we see this as a move in the right direction but continue to believe Coyote Valley is an inappropriate place for development. 

Integrating nature into urban and suburban landscapes: 

  • Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has awarded its first grants to urban open space programs. A conversation with the Environmental Action Committee was the first to highlight the importance of connecting people to nature within our built environment and SCVAS also endorsed Measure Q in 2014. We are glad that funding is now available to support nature restoration and education programs.
  • • In Palo Alto, we engaged as a stakeholder in the planning of the Palo Alto Parks, Trails, Natural Open Space and Recreation Master Plan. The plan now includes the goal to “Preserve and integrate nature, natural systems and ecological principles throughout Palo Alto” as well as policies that support this goal. We hope these plans along with Palo Alto’s Urban Forest Master Plan will help birds thrive.
  • The City of San Jose is updating its Greenprint, a long-term strategic plan that guides future expansion of San José’s parks, recreation facilities and community services. PLEASE HELP by filling out the Greenprint Survey here, and prioritize “natural places that support wildlife habitat and low impact recreation uses.”
  • On IBM’s campus in North Coyote Valley, we successfully advocated for the replacement of six dangerous Eucalyptus trees with twelve Coast Live Oaks. We also helped landscape architects incorporate native plant understory with native trees on property along the Guadalupe River Trail across from Ulistac Natural Area.

Mountain View is considering an updated North Bayshore Precise Plan (NBPP) that appears to keep its commitment to birds and wildlife while building “complete neighborhoods” of 8- to 10-story buildings to provide housing, goods, and services to residents. Previously, the NBPP focused on expanding the office park while integrating nature into the campus fabric. We asked the City to keep development away from the egret colony of Shorebird Way and to safeguard Shoreline Park’s wildlife, especially Burrowing Owls, from disturbance. 

 

The Lehigh cement quarry has been polluting air and water in Cupertino for decades, discharging selenium, a chemical compound toxic to birds and other animals, into Permanente Creek and area ponds. In November we joined approximately 100 people in an informational public meeting regarding the quarry. Given the known impacts of selenium on fish and birds, we are disappointed that government agencies have not acted faster to stop this source of selenium pollution. We will continue to follow future plans for the quarry and advocate for clean water and air. 

 

 

For more information or to get involved in conservation and advocacy work, contact Shani at shani@scvas.org.