Reviving natural spaces in the heart of Silicon Valley

In 2016, the Santa Clara Valley Water District awarded the City of Santa Clara a grant of $165,249 to fund improvements to the Ulistac Natural Area, a 40-acre open space preserve along the bank of the Guadalupe River. The project is a shining example of how the water district leverages grants and volunteer efforts to help protect our environment and to restore habitat along creeks and the bay.

At a site visit in May, a group of water district employees was delighted to see how much had been accomplished with the funds.

Through the grant, nine areas of the preserve will be revegetated. Four areas have already been completed. The work includes removing invasive non-native plants and trees, planting of native species, and documenting how well the trees and plants are surviving. Tiny pink flags dot the landscape, marking where new, native plants have begun to thrive. Grant funds helped restore two gently sloped, paved paths to draw visitors of all abilities into the reserve.

Most of the work in this project is the result of volunteer efforts. Through the Ulistac Natural Area Restoration and Education Program volunteers nurture this special place. In addition, the Audubon Society and Santa Clara University have teams of volunteers monitoring the survival of the plants over time.  To date, volunteers have logged more than 3,200 hours of work on the grant-funded project.

The grant is part of the water district’s Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, a 15-year parcel tax approved by voters in 2012. One of the key priorities of the program is restoring wildlife habitat. Over the life of the program, the water district expects to distribute nearly $35 million in grants, partnerships and rebate programs to support the mission to provide Silicon Valley safe, clean water for a healthy life, environment and economy.

Learn more about this serene oasis right in our back yard.

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