A Natural Paradise Worth Protecting

Rancho San Vicente is home to many wild animals, including deer, coyotes, San Joaquin kit fox, rabbits, bobcats and mountain lions. Songbirds and butterflies flutter among colorful native wildflowers, and golden eagles nesting at Calero are likely visitors. Ponds and streams provide habitat for endangered California red-legged frogs and tiger salamanders.

Rocky outcroppings of serpentine soils cover 506 acres—more than half—of Rancho San Vicente. The special qualities of this soil type support rare and valuable varieties of endangered plants and animals on the land.

Serpentine soils result from the presence of weathered volcanic rocks on the earth’s surface. These slippery green rocks, with their mottled, snake-like appearance, get forced up through the ground by tectonic plate movements. The layer of soil on top is very thin, poor at holding water, high in metals and low in minerals.

While these conditions can be harsh to most plants, they are precisely what certain rare and endangered species need to survive. Some of the South Bay’s most beautiful native plants and wildflowers—including purple needle grass, California brome, blue dicks, owl’s clover, tidy tips and California poppy—adapt to and even flourish in serpentine conditions. Also growing here is dwarf plantain, the most important food of the threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly in its larval stage, as well as Metcalf canyon jewel flower and Santa Clara Valley dudleya, both endangered.

Clean air and clean water are important to all people. At Rancho San Vicente, a canal owned by Santa Clara Valley Water District bisects the property. Protecting the watershed lands around the canal helps improve the quality of water flowing into nearby Calero Reservoir, a vital source of local drinking water for Santa Clara County’s 1.7 million residents.

Rancho San Vicente is a high priority within Santa Clara County’s Habitat Conservation Plan and Upland Habitat Goals protecting threatened and endangered plants and wildlife. Saving this property’s special habitat provides these species with the essentials for survival and preserves our region’s diverse and fragile ecosystems.