Back to top

D7: Partnerships for the Conservation of Habitat Lands*

About This Project

Funding from this project helps the community acquire and protect important habitat land to preserve local ecosystems. The project supports implementation of multi-agency agreements, such as the Valley Habitat Plan, that pool mitigation or conservation dollars to protect or restore large areas of habitat land.

Acquiring, restoring, connecting and protecting habitat areas helps native species to adapt to a changing climate. Large, contiguous land patches allow species room to move and adapt, to find cover from the damaging effects of climate change and to reestablish resting and rearing areas.

*This project was voter approved as part of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.

Coyote Ceanothus
Start FY 2022 / Finish FY 2036
Safe, Clean Water Fund ($8.0 million)
News and UpdatesNews and Updates
Reports and DocumentsReports and Documents
Environmental and Community BenefitsEnvironmental and Community Benefits
History and BackgroundHistory and Background
News & Updates

KPI #1: Provide up to $8 million per 15-year period for the acquisition or enhancement of property for the conservation of habitat lands

  • Valley Water is exploring partnerships and identifying opportunities for acquisition and enhancement of habitat lands. Several properties supporting multiple species and a mosaic of habitat types, comprising over 10,000 acres, throughout Santa Clara County have been considered. One priority acquisition occurred in Quarter 2 of Fiscal Year 2024.
  • On December 5, 2023, the Valley Water Board of Directors authorized the transfer of $4,000,000 of SCW Project D7 funds to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency towards the acquisition of a 978-acre portion of Richmond Ranch.
  • Richmond Ranch substantially meets Valley Water’s SCW Project D7 funding criteria, which ensure the prioritization of high-value habitat lands for acquisition and enhancement.  Criteria include the protection or enhancement of native habitats, special-status species, and habitat linkages/movement corridors; regional coordination to create larger, more contiguous swaths of conservation lands; and mitigation of and adaptation to the effects of climate change.
  • Richmond Ranch is a 3653-acre property in the eastern portion of unincorporated Santa Clara County (Attachment 1, Property Location). The property includes a variety of habitat types including grassland, riparian, and seasonal wetlands and supports a diverse assemblage of both common and sensitive species including Tule elk, California tiger salamander, Bay checkerspot butterfly, and Metcalf Canyon jewelflower. Nearly 800 acres of the ranch are designated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for the California red-legged frog, approximately 470 acres are designated for the California tiger salamander, and nearly 800 acres are designated for the Bay checkerspot butterfly. Richmond Ranch will be permanently protected through inclusion into the Valley Habitat Plan’s Reserve System.
  • Valley Water’s contribution towards the acquisition of Richmond Ranch results in fulfillment of the 5-year Implementation Plan and significant progress toward the completion of Safe, Clean Water Project D7.

April 2024


For more information:





Richmond Ranch


Richmond Ranch


Reports & Documents

No current documents.

Environmental & Community Benefits

Key Performance Indicator (FY22-36)

  1. Provide up to $8 million per 15-year period for the acquisition or enhancement of property for the conservation of habitat lands.


  • Protects, enhances and restores natural resources in Santa Clara County 

  • Contributes to the recovery of special status species

  • Coordinates regional mitigation or conservation projects to create larger, less fragmented conservation lands that are more beneficial for wildlife and the environment

  • May fulfill a portion of Valley Water’s responsibilities to the Valley Habitat Plan

  • Addresses climate change

Geographic Area of Benefit



History & Background

About the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program

In November 2020, voters in Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure S, a renewal of Valley Water’s Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program.

The program was first passed by voters in 2000 as the Clean, Safe Creeks and Natural Flood Protection Plan, then again in 2012 as the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program. The renewal of the Safe, Clean Water Program will continue to provide approximately $47 million annually for local projects that deliver safe, clean water, natural flood protection, and environmental stewardship to all the communities we serve in Santa Clara County.

While evaluating ways to improve the 2012 program, Valley Water gathered feedback from more than 21,000 community members. That helped Valley Water create the six priorities for the renewed Safe, Clean Water Program, which are:

Priority A: Ensure a Safe, Reliable Water Supply

Priority B: Reduce Toxins, Hazards and Contaminants in our Waterways

Priority C: Protect our Water Supply and Dams from Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters

Priority D: Restore Wildlife Habitat and Provide Open Space

Priority E: Provide Flood Protection to Homes, Businesses, Schools, Streets and Highways

Priority F: Support Public Health and Public Safety for Our Community

Each year, Valley Water prepares a report providing a progress update for each of these program priorities, along with fiscal year accomplishments.

To ensure transparency and accountability to the voters, the ballot measure also created an Independent Monitoring Committee, appointed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. The Independent Monitoring Committee annually reviews the program’s progress to ensure the outcomes are achieved in a cost-efficient manner and reports its findings to the Board. Additionally, the IMC also reviews each proposed 5-year implementation plan prior to its submittal for Board approval.

In addition, the program requires three independent audits.

View the Safe, Clean Water Program’s annual reports, annual IMC audit reports, and independent audits, including a staff response, on the Valley Water website.