Castle Rock
NATURAL RESOURCE - Sempervirens Fund purchased Castle Rock Hollow to preserve the 51-acre property in Los Gatos. (Orenda Randuch)

Sempervirens Fund recently announced its purchase of Castle Rock Hollow to preserve the 51-acre property, which shares a boundary with Sempervirens Fund’s former Castle Rock West property that was recently added to Castle Rock State Park in Los Gatos.

The Castle Rock Hollow property, acquired by Sempervirens Fund from landowner Jim White for $1.3 million, is the largest remaining private landholding within the natural western boundary of Castle Rock State Park. Sempervirens Fund plans to eventually transfer the land to California State Parks to expand Castle Rock State Park, as they recently did when they added 222 acres to the park in August.

“Without protection, the property faced the potential sale and development for housing or marijuana farming, which would have had harmful impacts on the natural resources protected nearby,” said Sara Barth, executive director of Sempervirens Fund. “Acquiring the property holds significant importance for Sempervirens Fund, given the property’s considerable potential for outdoor recreation and the presence of second-growth redwoods and mature hardwoods like madrone, tan oak and Douglas fir.”

The property is adjacent to nearly 6,000 acres of protected land and supports native and rare species such as the San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, pileated woodpecker and the Santa Cruz black salamander. It is located at the headwaters of the San Lorenzo River—a designated critical habitat for the endangered coho salmon and Central Coast steelhead trout. 

Prior to the 2020 CZU fire that ravaged the region, State Parks had expressed an interest in incorporating the Castle Rock Hollow property into their strategy to reroute the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail away from Highway 9. Under the future ownership of State Parks, the property could serve as a base for various recreational activities, including camping.

“Castle Rock State Park is the gateway to recreation in the Santa Cruz Mountains and securing properties within its borders is essential for its conservation and recreation future,” said Chris Spohrer, the Santa Cruz District Superintendent of California State Parks. “We are grateful to Sempervirens Fund for protecting Castle Rock Hollow and helping complete the western border of Castle Rock State Park. We will work closely with them on stewardship of its redwoods and San Lorenzo headwaters.”

The property also contains prehistoric cultural resources, with a meadow that suggests past Indigenous use, though further investigation is necessary to determine if there are any archaeological sites on the property.

Local semifinalists named in National Merit Scholarship Program

Fifteen Los Gatos High School students were named semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

They are:

• Esha Bagora

• Yichen Dai

• Tanya Goel

• Dana R. Hathaway

• Katherine Herron

• Nitya S. Jhamb

• Shayla E. Kumaresan

• Claire Liu

• Elisa Pan

• Yonatan J. Ramon

• Ashir Rao

• Rithi Rao

• Benjamin Robison

• Elizabeth M. Snyder

• Gavin A. Tamasi

More than 16,000 students across the country were named semifinalists. These high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring. 

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 320 business organizations and higher education institutions.

More than 1.3 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. 

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. 

National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced beginning in April and concluding in July.

PSA – Los Gatos High School senior Kian Egami’s film “Help” was awarded Best Video in the 2023 Be-You-tiful Contest held by the Eating Disorders Resource Center. (Kian Egami)

Los Gatos High School student wins short film contest

Los Gatos High School senior Kian Egami was awarded Best Video in the 2023 Be-You-tiful Contest held by the Eating Disorders Resource Center, a local organization focused on creating awareness and promoting recovery for treatment of eating disorders.  

Open to all middle and high school students in the Bay Area, Egami created “Help,” a public service announcement about the effects of social media on mental health and body image, especially for males. 

Winners were selected in the video, art and essay/poetry categories.

Egami said that he has been making videos since middle school. An honorable mention winner at the 2022/2023 Los Gatos High School Film Festival, Egami added that he’s made short videos for Los Gatos High School’s soccer team and is currently in the production of a short film. 

“Our students are incredibly talented and have so many opportunities to learn, create and expand their talents in our schools,” Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District Superintendent Bill W. Sanderson said. “I’m thrilled for Kian’s recognition and hope his message resonates with and supports many other students regarding this important topic.”

Egami was recognized at the Sept. 12 Board of Trustees meeting.

The Eating Disorder Resource Center (EDRC) hosts this annual multimedia contest for students in grades 6 through 12 with the goal of providing students the opportunity to share their experiences with mental health and body image, and encouraging them to dispel misconceptions.

Area infant receives life-saving transplant

With the cost of a life-saving transplant often exceeding $800,000, most transplant families are unable to cover the financial burden. The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is a national charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses. 

In Los Gatos, volunteers are raising funds for COTA in honor of transplant patients such as local infant, Harley Reynolds.  

Harley is the daughter of Sophia Rovai. Born in 2022, Harley was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia. The transplant team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto performed a life-saving liver transplant on Aug. 16. Los Gatos volunteers are raising $50,000 for COTA to assist with transplant-related expenses. 

Volunteers are needed for this COTA community campaign. Individuals and groups interested should contact Community Coordinator Michele Diaz at [email protected] or 408.348.1393.  

Harley’s family has asked for assistance from the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. One hundred percent of all funds raised for COTA in honor of patients assist with transplant-related expenses. 

Contributions may be sent to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana, 47403. Checks should be made payable to COTA, with “In Honor of Harley’s Liver” written on the memo line. Secure credit card gifts are accepted online at

Crews begin evacuation route project on Highway 9

Firefighters have started work on an evacuation route hardening project on Highway 9 in Monte Sereno, according to the Santa Clara County Fire Department.

The evacuation route hardening project will take place on the portion of the highway from Austin Way to Monte Sereno City Hall, the county fire department said on social media.

The project will take place from Tuesdays to Thursdays every week, 10am to 2:30pm, until Oct. 19, fire officials said.

Copyright © 2023 Bay City News, Inc.

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