Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful provides leadership to bring related community groups and public agencies affiliated with Coyote Creek to take action towards restoring the creek through cleanups and plantings, recreational and cultural activities, and educational partnerships.
Thinking cyclically about engaging the greater Coyote Creek community, people take care of the creek, which leads to gaining a further understanding of the creek, which leads to enjoyment and usage of the creek, which leads people back to caring for the creek. All these activities engage people to become the creek’s advocates and caretakers.
About Coyote Creek
Coyote Creek is actually a river! It is over 64-miles long and is the largest watershed in Santa Clara County. Its headwaters are in Henry Coe Park, and it runs through Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and downtown San Jose and into San Francisco Bay. This diverse ecosystem includes creeks, dams, urban areas, percolation ponds, saline environments, and over 20 miles of scenic biking and hiking trails.
The Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat Collaborative Effort (FAHCE) agreement of 2003 established a framework for long term resolution of the fishery restoration issues and the achievement of the restoration of this valuable resource. This project was a multi-agency project convened by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Department of Fish and Game to develop an interim fisheries and aquatic habitat management plan.
The goals of FAHCE are:
- Identify the contribution of SCVWD facilities and operations to existing fishery habitat conditions within the context of the variety of factors impacting salmonid populations.
- Identify reasonable flow and non-flow measurements that will improve habitat conditions for such fish populations within the context of competing water and land use demands.
From the report, specific issues and actions were recommended for the affected watersheds (Guadalupe River, Stevens Creek, and Coyote Creek). One main issue is that the Coyote Creek watershed is an important steelhead restoration opportunity. The main locations for fish spawning are down stream of Anderson Dam and parts of Upper Penitencia Creek.
In 1869, Coyote Creek meandered through the growing town of San Jose, with smoke stacks billowing and houses springing up. And, the creek was a broad expanse flowing through a mostly rural tree lined landscape and included a flood plain for seasonal rains. To learn more about the historical ecology of Coyote Creek, read the Coyote Creek Watershed Historical Ecology Study Executive Summary, commissioned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
The beauty of Coyote Creek can only be experienced while out along the creek. By foot, bike, or even kayak, you can see the turtles, fish, egrets, and greenery that surround and live in the creek. Mammals and birds stop by to drink from the creek. Plants, both native and invasive, provide ample cover in many sections for fish and other wildlife as they move throughout the corridor.
Some of the most notable and special creatures still living in the creek are the steelhead trout and chinook salmon, whose historical migration was from the Bay up the Coyote Creek to spawn. As an indicator species, the steelhead trout are on the Endangered Species list. However, many barriers to their continued existence are plentiful, including Anderson Dam, flood protection barriers, pollution, and poor and inconsistent water supplies
Now it’s a narrow ribbon of a very confined stream with most of its wild meanders straightened out of it and surrounded by homes and businesses and freeways. Fish barriers, including metal culverts that are several feet above the water make it nearly impossible for the fish to migrate to their spawning grounds.
Learn more about Coyote Creek’s diverse ecosystem.