Coyote Watershed

The Coyote Creek Watershed is the largest in the Santa Clara Basin, and covers approximately 320 square miles of area from the Diablo Range on the east side of the Basin to the valley floor The Creek originates in the mountains northeast of the City of Morgan Hill and flows northwest for approximately 42 miles before entering the Lower South San Francisco Bay. At the base of the Diablo Range, the Creek is impounded by two dams, which form Coyote and Anderson Reservoirs.

Nine major tributaries lie within the area that drains to these two reservoirs: Canada de los Osos, Hunting Hollow, Dexter Canyon, and Larios Canyon Creeks drain to Coyote Reservoir; Otis Canyon, Packwood, San Felipe, Las Animas, and Shingle Valley Creeks drain to Anderson Reservoir. Runoff upstream of Coyote Reservoir accounts for about 75 percent of the total runoff for the entire watershed. The boundary between the Diablo Range and the alluvial plain that forms the Santa Clara Valley floor is sharply defined. At least four major tributaries flow from the mountains across this alluvial plain to Coyote Creek, including Upper Penetencia Creek, Upper Silver Creek, Lower Silver Creek, and Fisher Creek. Coyote Creek flows through unincorporated, predominately agricultural land between Morgan Hill and San Jose. It then flows through the urbanized areas of San Jose and the lower edge of Milpitas, to reach the Bay. The urbanized area of Coyote Creek watershed has dramatically increased since the 1960's, and continues to expand. Since this time, population has increased greatly, and agricultural and grazing land have been converted to residential communities in the southern region of the Santa Clara Valley, and along the base of the Western Diablo range.

Coyote Creek has historically, and still does support the most diverse fish fauna among the Basin watersheds. It supports 10 to 11 native fish species out of the original 18. Species known to occur currently include Pacific lamprey, steelhead/resident rainbow trout, chinook salmon, California roach, hitch, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento pikeminnow, Sacramento sucker, threespine stickleback, prickly sculpin, riffle sculpin, staghorn sculpin, and tule perch

Watershed Facts

  • Watershed area: 320.5
  • Number of tributary creeks: 53
  • Miles of natural creek bed: 670.4
  • Miles of Engineered Channel: 36.4
  • Local cities: Santa Clara County, Morgan Hill, San Jose, Milpitas
  • Percent area by land use:
    • Residential 8.6%
    • Industrial/Commercial 3.7%
    • Forest 49.9%
    • Rangeland 29.6%
    • Other 8.2%
  • Percent Impervious Area: 11.1%
  • Miles of Underground Culvert or Stormdrain: 145.8
  • Beneficial Uses: Cold Freshwater Habitat (COLD), Warm Freshwater Habitat (WARM), Wildlife Habitat (WILD), Fish Migration (MIGR), Fish Migration (SPWN), Preservation of Rare and Endangered Species (RARE), Water Contact Recreation (REC-1), Noncontact Water Recreation (REC-2), Agricultural Supply (AGR), Municipal Supply (MUN), Groundwater Recharge (GWR), Commercial and Sport Fishing (COMM)
  • Water Quality Impairments:
    • Coyote Creek: Urban Pesticide Toxicity (Diazinon), Trash
    • Lower Silver Creek: Trash
    • Anderson Reservoir: Mercury, PCBs

back to watersheds map