SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A decades-long campaign to preserve a huge undeveloped area in the South Bay is hoping to win a special designation at the state level. We're talking about Coyote Valley along Highway 101 between San Jose and Morgan Hill.
It's not just about preserving open space. It's also about protecting wildlife.
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Conservation groups and elected officials have long envisioned the 17,000 acres to be preserved as open space. A new bill by Assembly member Ash Kalra will create a state conservation program to elevate the importance of the project and to help to finance what could require $200 million in funding.
Some of the land is privately owned. Residents of San Jose last year approved a measure that provides $50 million to acquire land.
"The good news is negotiations are going well with the landowners in the area," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "We should be able to issue bonds in August."
This vast area, on both sides of Highway 101 between San Jose and Morgan Hill, is about more than open space and trails. This land helps to replenish the ground water in the Santa Clara Valley, which is important for our drinking water supply. But another compelling reason is to save the lives of both humans and wildlife."
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has been studying and conducting a census of bobcats, coyotes, deer and other wildlife that use this habitat to migrate between the Santa Cruz mountains and the Diablo range. Development would put wildlife at risk.
"When we cut those off through development, we start to see in-breeding and bad genetic outcomes.
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The goal is to create culverts to allow wildlife to cross under Highway 101.
Another concern is the concrete barrier that divides Monterey Highway, putting wildlife at risk of being struck by 55 mile per hour traffic.
Lawmakers hope the conservation bill will pass. They hope to tap into state water bonds and greenhouse gas emissions funds to preserve Coyote Valley.
Efforts underway to designate Coyote Valley land as open space, protect wildlife