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Coyote Valley, California facts for kids

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Coyote Valley
Location California
Floor elevation 260 feet (79 m) at Coyote, California
Long-axis direction Northwest to Southeast
Long-axis length 7 miles
Width 2 miles
Bounded by Mount Hamilton, Diablo Range (east)
Foothills of Santa Cruz Mountains (west)
San Jose (north)
Morgan Hill, California (south)
Population centers San Jose, California
Coyote, California
Traversed by U.S. Highway 101, Monterey Highway

Coyote Valley (see also Coyote, California) is a large expanse of farmland, orchards and homes, approximately 7,200 acres (2,914 ha) in size, located in a narrowing of the Santa Clara Valley, in the southernmost part of San Jose, California. The Coyote Valley is targeted for urban development and until March 2008 was undergoing the State of California Specific Plan process in which master planning of the area began. The process was intended to analyze the feasibility of bringing new development to the area, with the participation of planners, environmentalists, engineers, and the general public. Although the North and the Mid-Coyote Valley areas have been planned for urban development since 1961, much controversy surrounds the proposal to build in this valley, which is considered by many to be the last remaining "untouched" open area within San Jose, an open space buffer between the urban City of San Jose and the northward expanding City of Morgan Hill, and a critical wildlife corridor for safe passage of large mammals from the Diablo Range to the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Coyote Valley is a floodplain approximately 11.2 kilometres (7.0 mi) and 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) wide, situated in a narrow constriction in Santa Clara Valley between the Diablo Range to the east and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. It contains the largest freshwater wetland in Santa Clara County, Laguna Seca, a lake important to groundwater recharge. Coyote Valley was named a “2001 Last Chance Landscape of America the Beautiful", one of the ten most endangered American landscapes by Scenic America. The only landscape selected from California, Scenic America described Coyote Valley as: “Coyote Valley is a rare scenic break in an otherwise urbanized area... The rolling hills, blossoming orchards, and grand oaks provide respite to visitors, residents, and myriad species of wildlife."

Part of San Jose, Coyote Valley also includes the tiny unincorporated community of Coyote, California. It is bordered on the south by Morgan Hill, California.


The current width of the wildlife corridor through the Coyote Valley is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). This is considered the minimum width for a viable wildlife corridor for multiple species.

De Anza College wildlife biologists and students have monitored wildlife in the Coyote Valley since December 2007. They have recorded 160 species of birds, 25 of which either are rare, have special status, or both. Because development and the multilane U.S. Highway 101 pose barriers to migration of mammals such as tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannoides), puma (Puma concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), bobcat (Lynx rufus), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), American badger (Taxidea taxus), etc. the Coyote Valley and its permeable multiple highway underpasses/culverts serve as the last remaining safe passages between the mountains to the west and east. De Anza students have used motion activated cameras to document that these passages are used by deer, bobcats, puma, coyote, and other large mammals.

Tule elk were re-introduced to Mount Hamilton from 1978 to 1981. However, tule elk that live on the Mount Hamilton/Diablo side of the valley have been documented lining up near Highway 101, unable to cross.

Coyote Valley’s vernal pools offer a safe haven to many amphibian species such as the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii).

Coyote Valley is traversed by Coyote Creek, an important stream for steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) spawning runs.

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