Conservation Corner January/February 2018
By Shani Kleinhaus and Mackenzie Mossing
Nurturing Nature in San Jose Parks
In our ever-expanding cities, nature often gets tossed to the wayside and considered only as an after thought. However, parks can play a vital role by providing critical wildlife habitat in urban landscapes, and so we continue to advocate for a focus on nature in various cities’ parks plans. For the past year, we have been engaged in the steering committee for San Jose’s update to its Greenprint - a long-term strategic plan that guides the future expansion of San Jose’s parks. In November, when the City Council was presented with an update on the Greenprint process, we encouraged them to include nature and habitat quality when assessing existing parks and identifying future park sites. Thanks to support from Councilmember Don Rocha, our recommendations were added to the motion and approved unanimously by City Council.
Santa Clara County Sanborn Park Threatened
High above Saratoga, Sanborn County Park comprises a dense wilderness of madrones, oaks, and conifers that provide habitat and connectivity for wildlife in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Here, quail and turkeys, Peregrine Falcons, woodpeckers, and songbirds can be seen and heard throughout the forest. But a heated debate over a nearby abandoned Christmas tree farm has caused us consternation. The farm (about twenty acres) is part of 140 acres that are designated for development of “active recreation” in a newly initiated update to the Sanborn Park Master Plan. The only idea for such “active recreation” has come from a group of mountain bike enthusiasts who are pushing for the parcel to be transformed into a high-impact bike park with jumps, ramps, and trails that could attract 1,000+ visitors per day. However, community members and environmental groups want to see the park left alone or restored to serve as habitat for wildlife, where only quiet, passive recreation is allowed. In November we attended a public meeting regarding the Plan, and joined the vast majority of the crowd calling for a focus on nature. We will continue to advocate for the wildlife that rely on this landscape.
Santa Clara Valley Water District Looking to Expand Pacheco Dam
Santa Clara Valley Water District recently applied for California Water Bond funding to expand the Pacheco Reservoir east of Gilroy. The expanded dam would be filled mostly with water from San Luis Reservoir and some storm runoff from the surrounding watershed. It would also be used to store water imported through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. While the project aims to provide much needed water to wildlife refuges in the Central Valley and to Pacheco Creek for the threatened Central Coast Steelhead, we are wary of new dams, the potential for contamination of Pacheco Creek and the Pajaro watershed with invasive species, and whether environmental benefits will be guaranteed. We outlined our concerns in comments on the Initial Study and Notice of Preparation, and also attended a working group meeting for the project. We will continue to be involved.
Palo Alto Baylands by Kelsey Frey
Palo Alto Baylands: Ongoing Planning and Engagement
In the past few years, SCVAS advocates and volunteers contributed to a large number of projects in the Palo Alto Baylands and areas east of Hwy 101. With the goals of minimizing harm to birds and their ecosystems, and of preserving and enhancing nature and bird habitat, we actively engaged in planning processes for the new golf course, Byxbee Park Master Plan, San Francisquito Creek flood control plans, Palo Alto Airport’s Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, Adobe Creek bridge, the Parks Master Plan, and even the Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan update. Most of these plans are now complete and in the process of being implemented. Recently, the City has embarked on a new Baylands Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which aims to consider opportunities for protection, enhancement and recreation at the Emily Renzel Wetlands, Byxbee Park, and the newly acquired ITT Antenna Field, while also considering the needs of the Water Quality Control Plant, airport, and the impacts of sea level rise. Palo Alto residents are welcome to volunteer and join us for the public outreach process – please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating.
We need volunteers to help us fight the deceptive and dangerous “Evergreen Senior Homes Initiative” (see main article). Please let us know if you can help spread the word – email email@example.com.