Saving All of West Coyote Hills Is Within Reach

West Coyote Hills is an educational resource. Students from Fisler Elementary School enjoying their outdoor classroom during a 2017 school field trip led by a Friends of Coyote Hills docent. Photo by Kathleen Shanfield.

It’s been over a year of Covid-19 pandemic lock-down and the case for saving all 510-acres of West Coyote Hills as a park and preserve has never been more cogent. People have rediscovered this open space jewel as a respite during a year of work- and school-from-home and general social distancing. Daily use on the adjacent Nora Kuttner and nearby trails have grown many-fold compared to pre-pandemic level; there’s always a steady stream of walkers, joggers and bikers.

Preserving West Coyote Hills as natural open space is Fullerton’s call to action to mitigate the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. West Coyote Hills is a former oil field still owned by Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes. It is the finest coastal sage scrub in the region, in pristine condition, and supports 56+ pairs of the endangered California gnatcatchers (the largest population in Southern California) and 69 pairs of coastal cactus wrens (California state species of special concern). The property has multiple values, including habitat, restoration, access, trail-bikeway, scenic, and educational resources.

The Friends of Coyote Hills have fought to save this precious habitat from development for more than 20 years with breakthroughs in 2013 and 2016 leading to the anticipated acquisition of the east side of the property by late 2021. In 2013 following our Measure W referendum, Chevron agreed to shift development off the parcel adjacent to the Ward Nature Preserve to create a larger swath of contiguous open space. In 2016, we worked with Senator Josh Newman and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva to raise more than $15M of state funds. Chevron funded a grant-writer to help the City of Fullerton find additional funds which made the purchase of the remaining east side of the property possible.

Our mission to save all of West Coyote Hills has made steady progress. We are hopeful that the east side of the site is purchased by the end of 2021. In the meanwhile, active fundraising for the west side is underway thanks to Senator Josh Newman.

Our work didn’t stop there. With the City of Fullerton working with Chevron and the State to complete the east purchase, we turned our attention to save the remaining west side of the site. For the last few years, we have been working with acquisition experts to identify funding mechanisms. Senator Josh Newman is again spearheading efforts in Sacramento by introducing legislation for significant funding including long term stewardship.

Our mission to save all of West Coyote Hills for now and future generations is within reach, perhaps within the next 3-4 years. Chevron has expressed openness to acquisition but we must act with urgency since development is not off the table.

Here’s what you can do to help. Please thank Senator Newman for his bold leadership on this issue. Councilmembers Fred Jung and Ahmad Zahra have also pledged their support. A generous supporter has provided a $10,000 challenge grant to continue our #SaveItAll mission. Please help us match this grant by donating today.

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