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Photo by Tom Grey

Conservation Corner September/October 2018

By Shani Kleinhaus and Mackenzie Mossing

Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society is one of the most active and successful conservation organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the past year, our Environmental Advocacy Team has engaged in dozens of issues that are critical to protecting birds, wildlife, and habitat in Santa Clara County and beyond. Through our efforts we have delivered significant conservation victories on state, regional, and local levels. We could not do this important work without your help.
Looking back on the past year, we have many accomplishments to celebrate. Here are some highlights of our work:
  • • Measure B on San Jose’s 2018 primary ballot put Coyote Valley, North San Jose, and the Evergreen Foothills in the crosshairs for residential sprawl, threatening thousands of acres of open space with development. Together with other environmental organizations, community leaders, advocates, and volunteers, our team spent the better part of 2018 engaged in a grassroots campaign to defeat the measure. Measure B lost by a landslide at the ballot box.
  • • Our ongoing campaign for bird-safe building design in Santa Clara County made great strides. We successfully advocated for bird-safe design in several planning efforts and development projects, including the North Bayshore Precise Plan in Mountain View, the new Vallco shopping center in Cupertino, and the future Civic Center (County headquarters) in Downtown San Jose.
  • • We participated as a stakeholder for Cupertino’s new Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Our engagement is evident in the draft plan, as it includes science-based objectives aimed at preserving and restoring habitat in Cupertino’s parks to reflect our regions ecology. Goals in the plan call for habitat connectivity, pollinator gardens, water sources for birds, and increased tree canopy, to name a few.
There is still a lot of work to do. We are currently engaged in a number of efforts to protect open space, creeks, birds and wildlife from habitat degradation and development:
  • • As Burrowing Owls continue to decline in Santa Clara County, we are working with partners regionally and statewide to study the status of Burrowing Owls and implement emergency strategies to save them locally. At the same time, we are advocating with both Google and the City of Mountain View to install fencing around Burrowing Owl habitat at Shoreline Park.  
  • • The City of Campbell is in the process of updating their General Plan – a blueprint for future development in the city. As the Bay Area continues to boom, significant redevelopment is expected along the Los Gatos Creek Corridor, and so we have been advocating for policies that protect riparian habitat, birds, and wildlife from encroachment. 
  • • Approved by Santa Clara County voters in 2012, the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program gave Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) the go ahead to start planning the separation of Ogier Ponds (Coyote Valley) from Coyote Creek in order to improve fish habitat and migration. Ogier Ponds is important to birders, and we see this as a unique opportunity to restore seasonal wetland habitat on the valley floor for birds and other wildlife. We are advocating with SCVWD and the County for a plan that prioritizes natural resources and includes a mosaic of habitats for birds.