Special Programs


Beginning in the late 1990s, eight watershed restoration plans and a number of other related assessments were undertaken for seven watersheds in Santa Cruz County. Over the next few years, the focus shifted to ways to effectively implement these plan recommendations. Numerous stumbling blocks were identified, including:

  • Competition between watershed partners for limited funding
  • Wasted time and money spent preparing proposals on grants not considered high priority by funding agencies
  • Few funding sources for project design and permits, resulting in stalled projects
  • Limited guidance from agencies early in the design process, often leading to costly re-designs
  • Confusing and time-consuming permitting process
  • Shrinking resource and permitting agency staff time
  • Lack of a formal watershed partner forum to discuss priorities
  • Lack of a centralized watershed restoration information hub specific to Santa Cruz County

Staff from the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District (RCD), Coastal Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Coastal Watershed Council, and the City and County of Santa Cruz developed the concept for the Integrated Watershed Restoration Program (IWRP) for Santa Cruz County in 2002 to address these stumbling blocks. IWRP is a voluntary framework, put into place to coordinate resource, funding, and permitting agencies to reduce staff time and help ensure that critical projects are identified, funded, and permitted. IWRP also provides resources to local watershed partners for developing projects.

IWRP has been heralded as a model for collaborative, integrated watershed conservation by our local partners, our key funders, as well as our state and federal partners. Due to the program’s success in identifying, developing, and implementing high priority restoration projects, the staff and management at the National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game requested that the State Coastal Conservancy expand IWRP and its associated funding to cover the neighboring counties of San Mateo and Monterey. Since IWRP's inception, the RCD and its partners have been able to design, permit, and construct over 80 water quality improvement and habitat restoration projects throughout the County.


Visit the IWRP web page.

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