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Public Trails Policy Criteria and Guidance


Approved Policy Criteria and Guidance for Public Trails on Valley Water Lands 

On December 14, 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors approved the Policy Criteria and Guidance for Public Trails on Valley Water Lands. The agenda, staff presentation, and other meeting materials can be found here

The approved Policy Criteria and Guidance document is available here.

There are more than 800 miles of creeks in Santa Clara County. Valley Water has jurisdiction over 275 creek miles in addition to ten reservoirs and narrow bands of adjacent lands totaling about 12,000 acres. We are currently collaborating with various municipalities to provide access to over 40 miles of trails on Valley Water land. These public trails are operated and maintained by the city, special district, or Santa Clara County — oversight is determined by the trails' location. 

The Trails Policy Criteria interpret existing Valley Water policy for joint use of its lands for public trails. The Guidance clarify the joint use agreement process for public agencies interested in using Valley Water lands for public trail use and provide a road map for these agencies to meet the Criteria. The goals of the Policy Criteria and Guidance are to:

1. Establish evaluative standards for proposed trails on Valley Water lands that support healthy communities, engage residents with water resources stewardship, and protect streamside ecosystems.

2. Provide guidance for trail project partners by clarifying the joint-use review process for trail projects to ensure that projects maintain Valley Water’s operational and environmental stewardship functions.

Valley Water protects wildlife habitats on the lands and creeks we own on behalf of the community we serve. We are committed to collaborating on appropriate recreational opportunities along these lands. Consequently, as opportunities to provide public trails and recreation arise, a balanced and clear policy is necessary to guide decisions.

Past Valley Water committee updates
Staff provided updates on the Public Trails Policy Criteria and Guidance draft to the Santa Clara Valley Water Commission on April 14 and the Environmental and Water Resources Committee on April 19. Here are the details from those meetings:

Santa Clara Valley Water Commission: Please click here to view the agenda and meeting materials.

Environmental and Water Resources Committee: Please click here to view the agenda and meeting materials.

A recording of the update given to Valley Water’s  Board Policy and Planning Committee is available for your viewingPlease click here to view the agenda and meeting materials from the January 25, 2021 committee meeting.


Materials from the December 17, 2020, Virtual Public Input Meeting

 - Agenda

 - PowerPoint Presentation

- Video recording of the virtual meeting 

If you have questions about the policy, please contact Lisa Bankosh, Assistant Officer, Division of Watershed Stewardship and Planning at [email protected]. You can also sign up to receive project updates via email.

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