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Coyote Valley, California facts for kids

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Coyote Valley
A view across the Coyote Valley towards Morgan Hill from Santa Teresa County Park, April 1, 2006
Floor elevation 260 feet (79 m) at Coyote, California
Length 7 miles Northwest to Southeast
Width 2 miles
Location California
Population centers San Jose, California
Coyote, California
Morgan Hill, California
Borders on Mount Hamilton, Diablo Range (east)
Foothills of Santa Cruz Mountains (west)
San Jose (north)
Morgan Hill, California (south)
Traversed by U.S. Highway 101, Monterey Highway

Coyote Valley is an area located in a narrowing of the southern Santa Clara Valley, in Northern California. Coyote Valley is approximately 7,400 acres (2,995 ha) in size and largely composed of farmland, orchards, open space preserves, and homes. Coyote Valley is generally divided into three sections: North Coyote Valley (which is part of San Jose), the unincorporated village of Coyote, California (which is located in North Coyote Valley), and South Coyote Valley (which is part of Morgan Hill).

Coyote Valley is one of the largest greenbelts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, much of Coyote Valley is preserved as open space, nature reserve, or protected farmland. The area was threatened by large-scale development in the early 2000s, which drew criticism from the public, resulting in the abandonment of the redevelopment plans and the establishment of the conservation policy which governs the valley today. The Coyote Gap at the extreme north end of Coyote Valley is a critical wildlife corridor for safe passage of animals from the Diablo Range in the east to the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west, as Coyote Valley is the narrowest point between the two mountain ranges.


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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