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SANTA CRUZ, CA – November 4, 2015 - The Coastal Watershed Council and Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County will host a tour at the new Heart of Soquel Park (HOS) and the Soquel Creek Water District Headquarters to showcase water friendly features including rain gardens, permeable surfaces and riparian restoration that improve water quality and natural habitat. Those who attend will learn how to incorporate these best practices into their own home landscapes.

thumb IMG 7852The HOS project includes creekside restoration and a walkway along the top bank of Soquel Creek, a community open plaza with permeable pavers, other open space that incorporates bioswales for capturing sotrmewater runoff, and better visual, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular access into this portion of Soquel Village from Porter Street and Soquel Drive.

thumb IMG 6800After viewing the new Soquel park attendees will walk to the nearby Soquel Creek Water District to view the site’s rain garden, 2850 gallons rain catchment and irrigation system, and underground water infiltration facility.

The tour will be held Saturday, November 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Heart of Soquel Park. RSVP required. Signup here or (831) 464-9200. This is a free, family-friendly event.

Photo opportunities will be available at the event.

The Coastal Watershed Council is a leading organization responsible for preserving and protecting watersheds on California’s Central Coast through watershed monitoring, education and stewardship. The Coastal Watershed Council formed the San Lorenzo River Alliance in December 2013 as a community partnership with the goal of creating a healthy watershed connected to a vibrant community. The Coastal Watershed Council invites the community to get involved today by calling (831) 464-9200 or visiting

The RCD is a special district that has been providing services to Santa Cruz County landowners since 1941. We are non-regulatory and offer conservation assistance to road associations, livestock owners, timberland owners, environmental organizations, governmental resource agencies, and the general public through workshops, onsite technical assistance, demonstration projects and cost-share programs. To learn more about our services visit or call 831-464-2950.

The Community Water Dialogue and the RCDSCC are highlighted in a recently released white paper on stakeholder engagement for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Implementation. This new report out from the Community Water Center, Clean Water Fund, and Union of Concerned Scientists highlights opportunities and strategies for engaging diverse stakeholders in California’s new system of groundwater management. “Collaborating For Success” draws on a wealth of research demonstrating the critical role of stakeholder engagement in achieving successful shared resource management. View the full report here.

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:

  • Removal or modification of all of the man-made fish passage barriers on Corralitos Creek, the West Branch of Soquel Creek, and both the mainstem of Aptos Creek and its tributary Valencia Creek
  • Restoration of breeding ponds and movement corridors for California Red Legged Frog in the Watsonville Sloughs
  • Development and launch of a recovery program for Santa Cruz Long Toed Salamander, California Red Legged Frog and the California Tiger Salamander
  • Restoration and acquisition of hundreds of acres of wetlands and uplands along the Middle Watsonville Sloughs via the Watsonville Sloughs Farm, the Bryant-Habert Wetland Restoration, Manabe Wetlands, and other wetlands projects
  • Assessment of over 121 miles of roads with implementation of 38 projects designed reduce erosion and the resulting impacts on streams
  • Creation of the first countywide permit coordination program to facilitation implementation of certain types of restoration projects to using a streamlined process, saving money and time


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
831.464.2950 X17


Kellyx Nelson, Executive Director SMCRD
Phone: 415.317.7399


Paul Robins, Executive Director, RCDMC
Phone: 731.424.1036 X124

Yesterday, the Wildlife Conservation Board awarded a $465,000 grant to the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) for a cooperative project a local private landowner, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), and National Marine Fisheries Service to restore riparian habitat in areas critical to special status amphibian and fish species, located on two coastal watersheds in Santa Cruz County. Additional in-kind engineering and design services were provided by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The two restoration projects funded by this grant have been identified by the Santa Cruz County Integrated Watershed Restoration Program (IWRP) as high priorities for conserving wetland dependent species in the county. IWRP, established in 2003 by staff from the RCD, SCC, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Coastal Watershed Council, and the City and County of Santa Cruz, is an innovative program that has been critical to increasing the pace and scale of restoration in Santa Cruz County.

One of the projects will improve approximately 1300 feet of riparian habitat along Soquel Creek for steelhead and foothill yellow legged frogs, two endemic threatened species. The project will focus on reducing stream temperatures, critical for riparian species survival. The problem can be exacerbated during times of drought when low stream flows can lead to higher water temperatures. Large rock, originally installed for bank protection will be removed and the banks replanted with riparian vegetation to provide shade along the stream. Downstream spawning areas will be improved by addressing fine sediment from an eroding landslide and the addition of large wood and other features will increase refuge for steelhead.

The second project is located adjacent to San Vicente Creek in northern Santa Cruz County. It will restore critical areas for endangered Coho salmon, Steelhead, and California Red Legged Frogs by improving degraded habitat to provide refuge for the species during high stream flows.

Established in 1942, the RCD is a locally-governed special district and one of the oldest environmental organizations in the County. Originally tasked with helping farmers reduce erosion, the RCD has evolved alongside a changing community and now acts as a hub for conservation working with landowners in a non-regulatory manner. These projects are excellent examples of how RCDs help people help their land.

“A lot of work went in to making this project a reality” said Chris Coburn, Executive Director of the RCD. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with a willing landowner to voluntarily improve his property for the benefit of the environment, the IWRP program for facilitating the process, and of course for the funding from the Coastal Conservancy, the WCB and contributions from the landowner to make it happen”.

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