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Santa Clara County’s newly remodeled Coyote Lake Visitor Center will hold its grand opening ceremony at the end of this month at Harvey Bear Ranch Park.

The center—its walls dressed in murals depicting fresh nature and mountains—is adorned with new displays, posters, interactive boards, and realistic models to provide children with an educational experience.

The Gilroy-area center now holds a larger amount of updated information that showcases the wide variety of wildlife at the park as well as its rich history and recreational opportunities such as horseback riding, cycling, power boating, jet-skiing, and sailing.

“Before this the visitor center was outdated, and it looked old,” county Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Tamara Clark said. “We wanted to bring life to a public space and offer vegetational opportunities to children.”

New exhibits installed at the center which will now feature taxidermy, including those of a mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, and various species of local birds. Snakes will be slithering in display tanks alongside aquariums teeming with lake fish. Outside, the park is home to numerous species, including some rare ones like the western pond turtle, California tiger salamander, and Bay checkerspot butterfly.

“There’s a lot going on inside the space with the sounds, what they’ll see underwater, and the different animals in the park,” Clark said. “We want to embrace the opportunity to have children engage in nature.”

The lakeside getaway opened in May of last year, making it the second-largest park in the county. It encompasses two new additions to the county parks system: Harvey Bear and Mendoza ranches, which boast histories that trace back to the Gold Rush settlers, Spanish explorers, and, long before that, indigenous tribes.

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In a 2018-19 draft budget unveiled last week, Santa Clara County officials proposed setting aside $5 million to help domestic violence survivors. That’s a 400 percent increase from the year prior.

Officials justified the spending increase because of an uptick in the number of reported domestic violence cases. The county fields about 20,000 calls a year to its domestic violence hotline, which doesn’t include 9-1-1 calls.

“The goal is to save lives, prevent homelessness and end violence,” County Executive Jeff Smith said in a news release. “The funds will be used to provide multiple services to survivors of intimate partner domestic violence such as housing, education, mental health services, and childcare.”

The funding will expand services for victims, such as the 24-hour crisis hotline, legal counseling, and housing assistance, according to the county.

In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the county offered 23,000 bed nights to domestic violence survivors. But a lack of resources left 2,000 survivors with no place to go. The very next fiscal year, the county provided 6,000 victims with services, including shelter for more than 700 adults and children to carry on their lives in a safe environment.

The Domestic Violence Death Review Team, a coalition that includes prosecutors and social workers, reported seven domestic violence-related deaths in 2016 and nearly twice that in 2017, with 13 deaths reported. Records show that the county counted a total of 178 domestic violence-related deaths between the years 2000 to 2016.

Partly in response to the uptick in domestic violence fatalities, the county founded the Intimate Partner Violence Blue Ribbon Task Force from 2016 to last year. The commission drummed a series of recommendations on how to improve violence prevention and intervention.

The proposed spending for domestic violence prevention and victim services would come from the county general fund with approval from the Board of Supervisors.

  • Writer's pictureWinona Rajamohan
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