San Jose State University faculty and students along with other community members met at Yoshihiro Uchida Hall to attend the first ever Coyote Creek Howl conference.
The purpose of the one-day summit was to bring awareness about the history, ecology and human issues related to Coyote Creek.
Deb Kramer, the co-chair of the conference and Restore Coyote Creek Project Coordinator at Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition, believes the community should be educated and come together over the issues revolving along Coyote Creek because it affects everyone.
“The things that happen in a creek will impact everybody," Kramer said. “If you don’t have a good environment for people to be in, or to live in, and you don’t have a good place for fish and animals you end up with a dead zone.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also joined in during the welcome session of the event.
He referred to Coyote Creek as a “true telling mirror” because it reflects the ecology and economy within that community.
The conference held panels focusing on issues such as current threats and restoration efforts for wildlife, the need to restore Coyote Creek fisheries and citizen engagement.
San Jose resident Leonard Smith attended the Howl because he enjoys fishing at the creek and wants to know what he can do to conserve the creek.
“I’m here because I’m interested in preservation," Smith said. "I thought this would be a good way to find out more about my community. I live very close to Coyote Creek and Coyote Creek valley.”
However, the issues along the creekside do not just revolve around pollution, ecology and homelessness.
“We are not only talking about cleaning up the creek, eliminating, reducing the pollution,” said Michael Fallon, director of the center for community learning and leadership at SJSU and co-chair of organizing the Coyote Creek Howl. “Part of that pollution is caused by hundreds of homeless individuals and families that are camped out along the creek.”
Fallon said the goal is to respectfully relocate the homeless away from the waterways.
Lianne Dou, a senior sociology major at SJSU, volunteered at the Howl to raise awareness about the issues plaguing Coyote Creek.
“It’s a community thing and we should be more involved,” Dou said. “If you don’t know what is going on you’re just stuck as a student in a little bubble rather than going out and knowing what is going on”.
Barbara Keegan, director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District 2 said she believes students today are more motivated about environmental concerns and coyote creek is really a neighbor of the university.
“There’s a need to start small and work local because that’s how you start to solve problems,” Keegan said. “You kind of have to start in your own backyard and you get these little victories and they build up to bigger victories.”
Panelists and committee members said they plan to continue to host future outings and encourage the community to visit the creek or even volunteer.