Blair Ranch Purchase
One of the fastest-growing regions in the San Francisco Bay Area lies south of San Jose near Gilroy. Agricultural lands in and around the rural Coyote Valley are under intense development pressure: the City of San Jose has annexed a portion of these lands and developed a master plan for 25,000 new homes and 50,000 jobs.
To provide more green breathing space for the expanding human population in this region, and to maintain continuous habitat for plants and wildlife, the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority will buy 865 acres of the Blair Ranch, which is less than 10 miles from Coyote Valley, and add it to Rancho Ca–ada del Oro Open Space Preserve. It will do so with the help of $4,340,000 approved by the Conservancy in January. Of the total, $2 million is a no-interest bridge loan, to be repaid within three years. Others contributing to the total $8,654,000 acquisition cost are the Moore Foundation and Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department. Peninsula Open Space Trust played a key role in bringing the project to the Conservancy’s attention and pulling together the various funding groups. The Blair family, who grazed cattle on the ranch for more than 20 years, will keep 126 acres, including the family residence.
Blair Ranch lies along the southeast edge of 3,017-acre Rancho Ca–ada del Oro Open Space Preserve, which shares a portion of its northeast border with 3,476-acre Calero County Park. The acquisition “helps make the wildlife connection between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range,” said Patrick Congdon, the Open Space Authority’s general manager. Other preserves in the region include Uvas Canyon County Park, Almaden Quicksilver County Park, and Sierra Azul Open Space Reserve. The Open Space Authority will develop a public access plan for the ranch, including hiking trails that will eventually connect to some of these parks.
Blair Ranch is situated at the head of the Uvas-Llagas Creek watershed, which drains directly into the Pajaro River. It has rolling hills, broad grass pastures, seasonal creeks, and oak woodlands with black oak, blue oak, valley oak, and coast live oak. It also has beds of rare Morgan Hill poppy jasper, as well as numerous serpentine outcroppings that support rare species such as the bay checkerspot butterfly. Coyotes, grey foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, big brown bats, and dusky-footed woodrats roam on the property, and 49 species of birds have been recorded, including white-tailed kites and western meadowlarks.