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A Tale of Three Valleys

The following announcement comes from Karen Warner Nelson of the League of Women Voters of San José/Santa Clara:

The League of Women Voters of San José/Santa Clara is partnering with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority to create an affiliate event for the Global Climate Action Summit (which as the Monitor reported earlier this month will be held in the Bay Area in September).

The League and the Authority have put together “A Tale of Three Valleys,” a bus tour to showcase how multiple groups across the world are working together to build landscape-level climate mitigation and resilience in high-growth areas like Silicon Valley and the French Silicon Valley just south of Paris.

Coyote Valley:  A Case Study for Urban-Adjacent Open Space Preservation

Before it was Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County was a mecca for farming. As the 20th century gave way to the 21st, urban sprawl consumed much of the prime soils of the valley floor. Today, preserving the remaining open space is the key to mitigating climate change and its impact on this vital economic engine.

The bus tour will highlight:

  • How enlightened government policy can simultaneously support the needs of a growing population and natural resource conservation.
  • How to evaluate the landscape’s historical ecology to develop effective land protection strategies in the face of high demand for housing.
  • How tools such as greenhouse gas quantification, hydrological analysis, and wildlife monitoring build the case for conservation.
  • How low carbon agricultural certification brings conservation and agricultural interests together.
  • How to position land conservation as a winning strategy to optimize agricultural interests, improve wildlife resilience, and positively impact water resources.

The Background Story

Stakeholders are working to preserve the most critical remaining open space in Coyote Valley through climate-smart mitigation and adaptive land use strategies. These efforts maximize the climate benefits of the remaining natural infrastructure and complement the City of San Jose’s focus on developing jobs, housing, and transportation in the urban center of the city.

Located just south of San José, Coyote Valley is rich with natural and working lands that provide important benefits to urban residents such as wildlife-friendly agricultural production, carbon sequestration, ground water storage and recharge, the potential for improving downstream flooding in high water years, and viable passage for wildlife. Climate mitigation strategies are already in place here by way of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan and the Climate Smart Plan, both of which offer multiple solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But this is not just a local issue. In a remarkable parallel, a French non-governmental organization, Terre et Cité, is working to preserve agriculture and wildlife passages just 20 kilometers south of Paris on the Plateau de Saclay, close to an area known as the “French Silicon Valley.” Terre et Cité is developing climate-based agricultural preservation tools of its own, working closely with local researchers and other stakeholders. Here, too, greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation strategies integrate urban and rural infrastructure solutions by considering them as a comprehensive whole. The work of both the Authority and Terre et Cité offers significant opportunities to learn from respective experiences and share best practices that can benefit other global organizations facing similar challenges.

The Coyote Valley bus tour will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11. Buses leave from and return to San Francisco, and the event costs $20. Registration closes on August 29, but space may still be available after that, so please contact Karen Warner Nelson at [email protected] for more details.

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