Land Trust Buys Star Creek Ranch

Dec. 20, 2012—A stunning 1,200-acre piece of grassland, oak woodland and redwood forest in the Pajaro Hills will remain forever undeveloped, anchoring a greenbelt in eastern Santa Cruz County and filling in a crucial wildlife corridor—and it's all thanks to the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.

The Star Creek Ranch looks to be a jewel of a place. Home to six creeks and springs, including one (Pescadero Creek) that hosts spawning steelhead trout, it also provides habitat for the endangered red-legged frog and the Southwestern pond turtle. Notably, it satisfies the requirements of Land Trust conservationists who have sought to direct acquisitions for a region in the grip of climate change; the hope is that year-round water, north-facing slopes and steep slopes will provide livable habitat for plants and critters even in a warmer, drier climate. And a full 24 miles of trails will provide great recreational opportunities once the details are decided.

Star Creek Ranch will also help protect eastern Santa Cruz County from the sprawly stuff we see on either side of Highway 101. The property abuts several protected lands, including Mt. Madonna County Park (3600 acres) and the Peninsula Open Space Trust's Clark Canyon Ranch (400 acres), forming a Great Wall of Beauty, if you will.

About a third of the property is redwood forest that the Land Trust intends to harvest sustainably, as it has done at Byrne-Milliron since 1984, in order to help pay for maintenance of the rest of the Land Trust's 11,850 protected acres.

Stay tuned for developments concerning Star Creek Ranch and those 24 miles of trail. We certainly will!

See a slideshow here.