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Latest News


On August 6, National Geographic's News Watch published a feature on the Pajaro Community Water Dialogue, a public-private partnership formed by key partners RCD Santa Cruz and Driscoll's Berry Associates.  The article tells the story of how the Community Water Dialogue has been working since 2010 to find innovative solutions to water shortages in a collaborative process. 


Read the article here:

Growing a Solution to California's Groundwater Crisis


Since its formation, the Community Water Dialogue has changed the tone of the discussion around water in the Pajaro Valley from adversarial to solutions-oriented. We have held regular meetings and events to improve our collective understanding of groundwater overdraft in the Pajaro Valley, and to mobilize individual and collective action to address it. The Dialogue has advanced valley wide projects like the Wireless Irrigation Network which helps growers access technology to better understand how much water their plants need through real-time soil moisture tension data. Participating growers report up to 30% water savings. The Community Water Dialogue is also advancing managed aquifer recharge projects to increase water going back into the basin. The group has also provided important technical and community input for the development of the Pajaro Valley Basin Management Plan Update. These projects demonstrate the broad community support and leadership in addressing aquifer overdraft.

"A State of Harmony" depicts the shared land ethic behind the important protection and stewardship work being done by RCDs and Land Trusts in California. The film reminds those of us working in, around and toward land conservation that we are stronger together, and helps explain the role of land trusts and RCDs to new audiences.

Filmed on location at the Patterson Ranch in Livermore, CA; and at the Watsonville Slough Farm and the Byrne Forest in Watsonville, CA. Produced by the Bay Area Open Space Council and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts with support from the California State Coastal Conservancy. 

Special thanks to: Paul Banke, Karen Buhr, Annie Burke, Kelli Camara, Cammy Chabre, Susan Ellsworth, Jenn Fox, Matt Gerhart, Jeff Helmer, Meredith Hendricks, Jim Jensen, Bryan Largay, Andy Miller, Laura McLendon, Donna Meyers, Robin Moore, Kellyx Nelson, Tony Nelson, Paul Robins, and Crystal Simons. Last but not least, the film wouldn't have been possible without the creative power and magic at Plus M Productions.




The RCD is pleased to welcome Chris Coburn as its new Executive Director.  Chris is a long time steward of natural resources in Santa Cruz County and brings a wealth of experience to the organization.  Chris comes to the RCD after eight years serving the County as a Water Resources Analyst.  Prior to that, he was a Water Quality Program Director for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Chris has a degree in Biopsychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Masters in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB. Away from work, Chris enjoys a variety of outdoor sports and chasing after his twin boys.


The Santa Cruz Sentinel published a front page story on the incredible work done by Karen Christensen and the transition to Chris as Executive Director.

Santa Cruz Sentinel: A Caretaker of the Environment


Welcome, Chris!  We look forward to working with you.

Rich 40 years

“After 40 years with NRCS, I feel like I’m just getting started,” says Rich Casale, District Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Capitola, California. He adds, “Honestly, I don’t even think of retirement, in fact, I feel like I have more to offer now than any other time in my career.” Rich is now one of the longest (not oldest) serving NRCS employees in California, an agency with more than 400 employees statewide.

When Rich walked into the Santa Barbara field office on June 17, 1974 to report for his first day of duty, the office staff didn’t know he was coming. They were so unprepared that they gave him policy manuals to read his entire first day on the job. In April 1975, as a young soil conservationist, he transferred to the Salinas office, which at that time served both Monterey and Santa Cruz County. Later that same year he started working out of an NRCS area administrative office that was located in Watsonville in order to better assist Santa Cruz County growers and conservation districts. During the next three years he assisted four local conservation districts helping them to reorganize their territories, and allowing the formation of the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County in February, 1978. By May of 1979, NRCS opened a full-fledged field office to exclusively serve Santa Cruz County. Rich was selected to serve as the first District Conservationist for the newly established office and still serves in that capacity 35 years later.

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