Today, the California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) awarded a $1.1 million grant to the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC) to support integrated watershed restoration program (IWRP) activities in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Mateo Counties.
Growing out of plans and studies in the late 1990s and early 2000s, IWRP brings together federal, state and local resource and funding agencies to identify and oversee the design and implementation of high priority projects to restore watersheds and improve water quality. In 2003, staff from the Coastal Conservancy, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, the City and County of Santa Cruz, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Coastal Watershed Council recognized the need for a coordinated, countywide process for identifying, funding, and developing key projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat.
Since 2003, over 150 projects have been implemented through IWRP, and some of the successes of IWRP in Santa Cruz County include:
IWRP projects usually have multiple benefits including species recovery, water quality, groundwater recharge, and recreation, among others. In addition to the environmental benefits provided through IWRP, a recent study entitled, “Nature’s Value in Santa Cruz County” found that projects funded through IWRP created approximately 140 jobs and generated a total economic output of $38 - $43 million to the local Santa Cruz economy.
Steve Palmisano, Public Works Director for the City of Watsonville, had the following to say about IWRP, “The City's participation in the IWRP process has brought tremendous value to the Watsonville community. It has allowed us to restore and preserve 25 acres of wetlands, create public access and educational opportunities, and to develop stronger partnerships with other agencies. None of this would have been possible for our economically disadvantaged community; we simply did not have the resources to implement these projects. I highly recommend additional funding support for the IWRP; this funding will be leveraged multiple times by the efforts of the partners in this process."
The current award builds on this success to address resource concerns that have become ever more urgent in the current drought. This grant award was supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Cal Poly / Swanton Ranch, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Cities of Watsonville and Santa Cruz.
Resource Conservation Districts are special districts that operate pursuant to the Resource Conservation District Act. RCDs are public resource agencies but have no regulatory or enforcement functions. The mission of the RCDSCC is to help people protect, conserve, and restore natural resources through information, education, and technical assistance programs. The RCD has ongoing projects that promote natural resource conservation in relation to farming and ranching operations and watershed-based habitat restoration
Chris Coburn, Executive Director, RCDSCC
Kellyx Nelson, Executive Director SMCRD
Paul Robins, Executive Director, RCDMC
Phone: 731.424.1036 X124
Employment Opportunity for a AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM TECHNICAL SPECIALISTBACKGROUND:
The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) is a non-regulatory special district that helps people protect, conserve, and restore natural resources through information, education, and technical assistance programs. The RCD has ongoing projects that promote natural resource conservation in relation to farming and ranching operations and watershed-based habitat restoration.
RCD projects focus on reducing soil erosion, off-farm sediment transport, and non-point source pollution, fostering salmonid and wildlife recovery, and improving ecosystem health. The RCD Board of Directors and staff work closely with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
In 2012, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC) received funding from the California Department of Water Resources through an Integrated Regional Watershed Management (“IRWM”) grant to conduct the College Lake Multi Objective Management Project, which consists primarily of this study (“Study”) of College Lake to evaluate management alternatives for the lake that serve multiple objectives. The RCDSCC, in combination with a consultant team lead by cbec Inc., and Steering Committee members including the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and the County of Santa Cruz collaborated to review existing studies, prepare new topographic maps, conduct hydrologic modeling, develop water budgets, and solicit expert, stakeholder and community input. This work was facilitated by the engagement of a Technical Advisory Committee (“TAC”), including Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, local farmers and landowners, and biological experts. The Steering Committee and the TAC considered the goals of the Pajaro Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plan (“IRWMP”) as well as many important factors and stakeholders of particular concern in and around College Lake. This resulting Study evaluates multiple alternatives for lake management and provides recommendations for future study and analysis.
The Study is available here.