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Habitat Restoration Sites and Conservation Areas

VTA designs highway, transit, and facilities projects to avoid or minimize permanent impacts to sensitive habitats and habitats that are essential for the survival of special status animals and plants to the maximum extent possible. When impacts are unavoidable, VTA mitigates or compensates for the loss of habitats by preserving, enhancing, restoring, or creating habitats near the project site in coordination with the appropriate resource agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Regional Water Quality Control Board. Each habitat restoration site or conservation area is unique, and VTA must conduct several years of monitoring at these locations to ensure that the goals of the restoration or conservation are achieved.

habitat sites

VTA Properties

Coyote Ridge Conservation Area

VTA purchased 548 acres on Coyote Ridge in south San Jose to conserve sensitive serpentine soil habitat for the threatened bay checkerspot butterfly. Serpentine soil allows for the growth of certain types of plants that the butterfly needs for various stages of its life. The property provides habitat for other federally protected species such as the California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, and migratory birds. The American badger and San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, both State protected species, are found on the property. Tule elk, coyote, bobcat, black-tailed deer, resident birds, bats, invertebrates, and many other wildlife species add to the biodiversity on Coyote Ridge. Along with the animals, the property includes six plant communities: serpentine grassland, California annual grassland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, riparian forest and scrub, and wetlands. Within these plant communities are found several species of rare and protected plants.

VTA, in partnership with the City of San Jose, purchased the Coyote Ridge property in 2004 to satisfy the mitigation requirements for known and predicted impacts to serpentine communities due to VTA’s U.S. 101 Widening and State Route 85/U.S. 101 South Interchange and the City of San Jose’s Bailey Avenue/U.S. 101 Interchange projects.

Tasman Wetlands

The Tasman Wetlands Project is located on three acres west of the Guadalupe River and north of State Route 237. The goal of the Project is to restore a fully-tidal, brackish marsh similar in structure and function to the adjacent marsh along the Guadalupe River. In 2009, VTA staff opened four culvert gates to allow water from the river to enter the site. The water levels in the wetland change depending on the tides. Biologists are monitoring the Project to track the progress of wetland habitat development and wildlife use.

The Project satisfies the mitigation requirements for impacts due to the extension of the Tasman light rail line across Calabazas Creek, Stevens Creek, Sunnyvale East channel, and Sunnyvale West channel and from the construction of a levee at the mitigation site.

Wrigley Creek Improvements

The Wrigley Creek Improvements Project is located south of Calaveras Boulevard and west of South Milpitas Boulevard in Milpitas. The Project includes restoring and enhancing a portion of Wrigley Creek by realigning the existing channel and creating a more natural channel with meanders. This restoration would enhance the hydrologic and geomorphic functions of the creek such as sediment transport and deposition, natural water quality improvement, flood storage, and fish and wildlife habitats. The Project also includes replanting the 8.8 acre site with native plants, including Congdon’s tarplant, a special status plant species.

The Project fulfills the mitigation requirements due to the construction of drainage improvements such as box culverts on Toroges, Scott, Calera, Berryessa, and Wrigley creeks as part of VTA’s Freight Railroad Relocation/Lower Berryessa Creek Project.

Other Sites

State Route 152-B Improvements Project – Habitat Restoration

The goal of State Route 152-B habitat restoration was to provide a self-sustaining riparian habitat that is of equal or better function than the habitats impacted due to the highway project. The restoration included both riparian and shaded riverine aquatic habitat planted within the Llagas Creek Flood Control Channel. Invasive species were removed from the channel in the restoration area for five years.

The habitat restoration satisfied the mitigation requirements due to impacts to habitats from the widening of the bridges over the Llagas Creek Flood Control Channel and Old Llagas Creek due to the State Route 152-B Improvements Project.

Consolidated Biological Mitigation Project

The Consolidated Biological Mitigation Project consolidates the mitigation requirements of eight VTA projects into a single, large restoration site. The restoration site is located along the Coyote Creek Parkway in south San Jose on land owned by Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation. The restoration includes eradicating an invasive and non-native species (giant reed) from the site; planting native vegetation to increase riparian habitat along Coyote Creek; creating a wetland; and increasing the overall functions and values of habitat along the creek.

The Project satisfies the mitigation requirements for impacts to riparian and wetland habitats due to VTA’s Capitol Light Rail Transit, Vasona Light Rail Transit, Interstate 880 Widening, State Route 85/U.S. 101 North Interchange, State Route 85/State Route 87 Interchange, U.S. 101 Widening, State Route 17 Improvements, and State Route 85/U.S. 101 South Interchange projects.

State Route 87 HOV Lane Project – Habitat Restoration

The State Route 87 HOV habitat restoration includes planting native riparian vegetation on both sides of the Guadalupe River near Willow Street in San Jose. The restoration satisfies the mitigation requirements due to impacts to riparian habitat primarily from the widening of the State Route 87 bridge at Willow Street.

State Route 152/State Route 156 Improvement Project – Habitat Restoration

The State Route 152 / State Route 156 habitat restoration includes planting herbaceous species native to Central California in areas subject to temporary ground disturbances due to construction of the highway project. The restoration also includes planting native trees and shrubs in upland areas.

The restoration satisfies the requirements of the Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which states that, upon completion of the highway project, restoration of the site will be implemented to compensate for the temporary loss of San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog, and California tiger salamander habitat.

Upper Penitencia Creek Improvements

The Upper Penitencia Creek Improvements Project is located along Berryessa Road near the Union Pacific Railroad crossing in San Jose. The Project includes realigning a portion of the existing channel to enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and provide flood storage. The project would also improve fish passage for the threatened Central California Coast steelhead, a species protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Project fulfills the mitigation requirements as part of VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension Project.

Alum Rock Fish Passage

Biological impacts to wetlands and other aquatic resources due to VTA's Freight Railroad Relocation Project will be mitigated on Upper Penitencia Creek within Alum Rock Park in the City of San Jose. The mitigation includes the removal of a critical fish passage barrier that currently blocks access to potential habitat for threatened steelhead populations, repair of a rill that is causing erosion issues near the fish barrier, and the expansion of floodplain on the east back immediately downstream of a historical foot bridge. The floodplain region of this project has the potential to serve as a habitat for various animals and vegetation native to the area.

How to Reach Us

If you have any question concerning a habitat restoration site or conservation area, please call VTA's Community Outreach Hotline at (408) 934-2662, hearing-impaired (TTY only), (408) 321-2330 or email us at​

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