Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan

Creating a Community Vision for Landscape Conservation


The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, through a unique partnership with the Peninsula Open Space Trust, and the City of San Jose has protected over 1000 acres of open space in Coyote Valley, located at the southern edge of San Jose. In addition to its scenic beauty, rich biodiversity, prime farmland, and unique water sources, Coyote Valley is one of a few areas on the Santa Clara Valley floor that provides habitat connection between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range. It has been described as a “last chance landscape” to connect the 1.13 million acres of core habitat in the surrounding mountain ranges and safeguard the region’s biodiversity. Protection of these lands unlocks unparalleled opportunities to create a 21st century greenbelt near urban San Jose, and delivers a host of ecological, economic, and quality of life benefits - now and for future generations.


Working under SWCA Environmental Consultants’ project contract, Civic Edge was brought on to lead the development and implementation of robust community engagement throughout the multi-year Coyote Valley Conservation Areas Master Plan (CVCAMP) process that will guide the future use and management of the conserved lands. This community-based planning process is a significant opportunity to create a regional destination and public asset focused on interconnection, inclusion, and resilience, while designing with nature and optimizing nature as a climate change solution. 

The Civic Edge team set up foundational tools and processes like an easy to use engagement tracker, stipend framework to guide equitable compensation to individuals and organizations, and translation guides to ensure consistency across the multi-year project. Engaging with community members who have not historically been a part of conservation and planning processes was a top priority. The Civic Edge team has led in-language workshops with community members in Spanish and Vietnamese as well as targeted outreach to youth and older adults through community based organizations.  

Building Public Awareness and Pride

With the project’s primary goals being wildlife connectivity and projecting water resources, the majority of decision-making will be guided by science. Clearly communicating the decision space for the public while also informing them of the many unseen benefits the project will have to adjacent communities is a delicate balance. Through creative engagement activities like a popular Earth Day booth activity, a community-wide survey, guided hikes with community based organizations, and more, we’ve helped make CVCAMP a point of pride for surrounding communities beyond those typically interested in conservation projects and positioned the project well for future phases when site alternatives will be presented. 

Project Expertise 

  • Community and stakeholder engagement strategy
  • Equitable engagement
  • Event outreach
  • Community workshops
  • Collateral and materials development