Land Trust of Santa Cruz County

Sponsored content

A highway underpass for mountain lions. A partnership to buy the largest expanse of unprotected redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A bike and pedestrian trail 32 miles long hugging the Monterey Bay.

What do these ambitious endeavors have in common? They’re all projects of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. A few years ago the Land Trust, founded in 1978, started thinking big. And today the group that got its start protecting Antonelli Pond is making its mark on some of the region’s highest-profile conservation projects, projects like:

A wildlife crossing under Highway 17. The Land Trust is purchasing land and easements on both sides of the highway and is working with Caltrans to build a wildlife underpass at Laurel Curve so mountain lions, deer and other creatures can safely extend their range and maintain genetically healthy populations.

The Coastal Rail Trail. In Spring 2014 the Land Trust became the lead private fundraiser for the portion of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail that lies along the 32-mile Branch Rail Line between Santa Cruz and Davenport. Money raised by Land Trust for the Rail Trail will be used to attract state and federal grants.

San Vicente Redwoods (formerly Cemex Redwoods). The Land Trust is one of four conservation organizations that chipped in to buy the 8,500-acre North Coast property, the largest piece of unprotected forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, in 2011. The Land Trust is in charge of developing a recreational access plan for the property—something hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians are eagerly awaiting.

Star Creek Ranch. In 2012 the Land Trust bought a 1,200-acre patch of Pajaro Hills that serves as an important wildlife corridor. It could one day be a crucial piece of a regional park.

So what else besides the Land Trust do these disparate projects have in common? They all support a vision for Santa Cruz County that got a dramatic update several years ago, and which will help ensure that our piece of the Central Coast remains beautiful and livable—not just for humans, but for the thousands of plants and animals that call this place home.

Click to learn about the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County's super ambitious "Great Land & Trail Campaign."

A Blueprint for The Future
Begun in the late 1970s in response to sudden and rampant growth, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County started out acquiring land for conservation the way most land trusts do: by seizing whatever opportunities came its way. That strategy led to the protection of some important small pieces of land, and some pretty impressive larger parcels, among them the Byrne-Milliron Forest and the 680-acre Circle P Ranch.

With these successes, in 2009 the Land Trust decided to really take the future into its own hands. It was time to balance chance—the protection of lands as they became available, something the Land Trust couldn’t possibly control—with the purposeful pursuit of a vision.

“In the land trust movement they’re very opportunistic. They take what comes along,” explains Stephen Slade, deputy director for the Land Trust. “As they mature and become more professional, they establish priorities.”

By studying hundreds of reports and consulting scores of experts and stakeholders, the Land Trust set about determining what Santa Cruz County will need to remain healthy in the face of mounting population pressure and climate change.

The result was the Conservation Blueprint, a plan that will guide the Land Trust’s decisions for the next 25 years. It prioritizes four key goods: wildlife habitat and connectivity, water supply and quality, working lands, and recreation. It identifies eight geographical areas in the county where protecting those elements will yield the most benefit.

“Explosive growth in our four neighboring counties will soon surround us with four million people,” Land Trust Executive Director Terry Corwin wrote in the introduction to the Blueprint. “The Blueprint is about what we can do together over the next 25 years to protect our county for future generations. It’s about our kids and grandkids and the world we are going to leave them.”

Protecting Wildlife And Water in Santa Cruz County
It’s easy to gloss over terms like “wildlife habitat and connectivity” without really thinking about what they mean. The Blueprint recommends protection for 17 different vegetation types, each supporting a distinct animal community. It also targets “wildlife corridors”—patches of land that bridge major habitat areas and allow roaming animals like pumas to mingle with other populations. It suggests creating “climate change refuges” in wetlands and north-facing slopes where plants and animals can adapt to hotter, drier conditions by migrating to cooler or wetter places.

Read about progress on the Highway 17 wildlife crossing.

Similarly, preserving “water supply and quality” is a lot more interesting within this framework than it sounds. In the vision for the future laid out in the Blueprint, Santa Cruz County’s critical watersheds are protected from further development. Some lands contain percolation ponds where depleted groundwater aquifers can recharge. Encouraged by incentives from the Land Trust, farmers and ranchers use less water, maybe even employing techniques developed at the 440-acre Watsonville Slough Farms, a Land Trust-owned property that is partly leased to farmers and partly used for demonstration.

That brings up the conservation of “working lands”—the farmlands, ranchlands and timberlands that contribute to the local tax base and act as limits on sprawl. The Land Trust is unusual among coastal conservation groups in that it supports continued economic activity on lands it buys or holds easements on, partly to support a healthy local economy and partly because, done right, working lands can be sources of clean water and wildlife habitat. Locally the Land Trust has pioneered sustainable timber harvest on conservation lands like the Byrne-Milliron Forest. That’s now the model for a light-touch logging plan in a portion of the San Vicente Redwoods, which is regarded as prime wildlife habitat and a source of clean water—and is being carefully managed to stay that way.

Read about forester Nadia Hamey and sustainable timber harvest in Byrne-Milliron and San Vicente Redwoods.

The fourth Blueprint priority, recreation, speaks to the way humans interact with nature. “We connect with nature every time we breathe or drink water or simply look at the beauty that surrounds us,” reads the Blueprint. Recreation is another way of connecting with the natural world, and it can inspire stewardship even as it supports a local economy partly based on tourism. The Blueprint identifies the city of Watsonville, the Rail Trail and connections to the Bay Area Ridge Trail among a handful of opportunities to increase the county’s trail system and inspire its residents to connect with and care for nature.

Each of the Land Trust’s major current projects—the wildlife crossing, the Rail Trail, San Vicente Redwoods and Star Creek Ranch—serves one or more of these four priorities. The wildlife crossing establishes habitat connectivity. The Rail Trail will be a major outdoor recreational draw. San Vicente Redwoods and Star Creek Ranch arguably serve all four priorities. And they all came about after the Conservation Blueprint process began in 2009.

That’s the beauty of having a vision, says deputy director Slade.

“The point of the blueprint is it puts these goals on the wall, and when an opportunity comes up, you say ‘Yeah!’ It gives you a big-picture goal so you can take a little risky step.”

A New Path to Conservation in Santa Cruz County
The Conservation Blueprint recognizes that the days of land trusts buying acreage and selling it to the state for parkland are probably behind us. So it recommends that the Land Trust make greater use of tools like conservation easements (payments to landowners in exchange for a legally binding pledge not to develop their property) and stewardship incentives (for example, paying a farmer to plant native vegetation along a creek) rather than just relying on the outright purchase of lands. Property ownership, after all, means expenses like trash collection, fence repair, trail building and habitat restoration. Those things aren’t cheap.

The Blueprint also recommends that the Land Trust continue to allow some properties to remain income-generating working lands. Proceeds from selective timber harvest on one property, for example, can pay stewardship expenses on several properties.

“Over half of our operating budget goes to stewardship,” says Slade. “That’s a big part of the story. Stewardship costs are growing and ongoing forever. And timber harvest and ag leases fund a lot of stewardship.”

When the Land Trust bought Watsonville Slough Farm in 2009, it took the steepest land out of production but leased half the acreage back to strawberry and vegetable farmers. That’s a valuable income stream today that funds wetland health, as well as a future nature preserve with trails that will link up to the Rail Trail.

But it does something equally important with respect to the challenges of working with an agricultural community that’s a little wary of environmental causes.

“It gives us credibility,” says Slade. “It says, ‘We understand the challenges of farming, and we understand the challenges of farming next to protected wetlands.’ It’s not just, ‘We think it’s good for you.’ We think it’s good for us, too.”

The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County welcomes new members with an informative quarterly newsletter and special invitations to Land Trust events. You’ll find them at:

617 Water St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


Field Notes

Plant your flag! Upload a photo, video, field note, nature poem or question for our army of (mostly) amateur naturalists.


The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is a unique and inspiring organization. I'd like to take this time to extend a sincere thank you to the organization, its volunteers, and funders, for acquiring and maintaining the Byrne-Milliron Forest Preserve in the Santa Cruz mountains - and also to urge Hill Trompers to get out and explore the preserve!

There are miles of trails through redwood forests that are dog-friendly and breath-takingly beautiful - if you don't believe me just check out the professional photos and story here :
It'll make you want to get out and take a hike.

There's a volunteer day Nov 14th to manage invasive plant species, 9-12am, so you can also get out there and get your hands dirty!


A debt of gratitude is in order for your understanding for your phenomenal posting. I'm happy I have set aside an ideal opportunity to see t offers for hr management booksWebsite


I discovered this is an instructive and fascinating post so i suspect as much it is extremely valuable and proficient. I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. Triathlon store Mount Pleasant SC


I think this is an enlightening post and it is exceptionally valuable and proficient. along these lines, I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. next page


I think this is a better than average article. You make this data fascinating and locks in. You give perusers a ton to consider and I welcome that sort of composing. look at this


I needed to thank you for this magnificent read!! I certainly cherished each and every piece of it. I have you bookmarked your site to look at the new stuff you post. Ad Server


Precisely, you're extremely sort of us about remark!. economical business cards print


The data you have posted is exceptionally helpful. The destinations you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.. browse around this website


Precisely, you're extremely sort of us about remark!. Cursos Google


I discovered your this post while hunting down data about web journal related exploration ... It's a decent post .. continue posting and overhauling data. Diplomado marketing digital


Incredible substance material and extraordinary format. Your site merits the greater part of the positive criticism it's been getting. Hoboken Electrician


Love to read it,Waiting For More new Update and I Already Read your Recent Post its Great Thanks. flotronic pumps


I was surfing net and luckily ran over this site and discovered exceptionally intriguing stuff here. Its truly enjoyable to peruse. I delighted in a considerable measure. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this superb data. atrakcje-na-wesele


Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Xtremsearch seo stadt Wuerzburg


These articles and blogs are truly enough for me for a day. mmm nigeria


I as of late discovered numerous helpful data in your site particularly this web journal page. Among the bunches of remarks on your articles. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing. Cheap fifty five print Discount Code


I am happy you take pride in what you compose. This makes you stand way out from numerous different authors that push ineffectively composed substance. find plumber


howdy, your sites are better than average. I value your work. offers for risk management books


Extraordinary Information sharing .. I am exceptionally cheerful to peruse this article .. a debt of gratitude is in order for giving us experience info.Fantastic pleasant. I welcome this post. produce video


I discovered this is an instructive and intriguing post so i suspect as much it is extremely valuable and educated. I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. passive income


I as of late ran over your online journal and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't realize what to say with the exception of that I have delighted in perusing. Pleasant website. I will continue going by this web journal all the time. gifts for cat lovers


Awesome review, I am a major adherent to remarking on online journals to illuminate the website scholars realize that they've added something beneficial to the internet!.. How to block an email address in gmail


I have perused your web journal it is extremely useful for me. I need to express profound gratitude to you. I have bookmark your site for future redesigns. gmail login


I simply discovered this online journal and have high trusts in it to proceed. Keep up the considerable work, its elusive great ones. I have added to my top picks. Much obliged to You. Newfoundland gold coins


I read your website as often as possible and I just thought I'd say keep up the astonishing work! plumber in Millbrae CA


i was simply perusing along and happened upon your web journal. simply needed to say great online journal and this article truly helped me. Email Findr Review


Much obliged you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. man and van ealing broadway


A debt of gratitude is in order for setting aside an ideal opportunity to talk about this, I feel unequivocally about it and affection adapting more on this subject. portable line boring machine


This is extremely instructive substance and composed well for a change. It's pleasant to see that a few individuals still see how to compose a quality post! buy soundcloud likes


I take in some new stuff from it as well, a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing your data. birthday gifts for mom


I really thank you for the valuable info on this great subject and look forward to more great posts. Thanks a lot for enjoying this beauty article with me. I am appreciating it very much! Looking forward to another great article. Good luck to the author! All the best! ΥΑΛΟΘΥΡΕΣ ΠΟΡΤΕΣ ΑΣΦΑΛΕΙΑΣ


A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this data. I truly like your blog entry all that much. You have truly shared a useful and fascinating blog entry with individuals.. statutory demand


Really great post. I just discovered your web journal and needed to say that I have truly delighted in perusing your blog entries. Any way I'll be subscribing to your food and I trust you post again soon. Huge much obliged for the helpful information.


Fascinating point for an online journal. I have been looking the Internet for no particular reason and happened upon your site. Impressive post. Much appreciated a ton for sharing your insight! It is awesome to see that a few individuals still invest an exertion into dealing with their sites. I'll make certain to inquire again genuine soon. birmingham property for sale


Love what you're doing here folks, keep it up!.. vacate cleaning melbourne


I appreciate this article for the all around examined substance and incredible wording. I got so included in this material that I couldn't quit perusing. I am inspired with your work and ability. Much thanks to you to such an extent. Robots


hi was just seeing if you minded a comment. i like your website and the thme you picked is super. I will be back. Phuket tours


Your online journal gave us important data to work with. Each and every tips of your post are wonderful. You rock for sharing. Continue blogging.. how to make money with cpa offers


I adore this website!! The blaze up the top is wonderful!! www.55 Discount


Great artcile, yet it would be better if in future you can share more about this subject. Continue posting. Custom Bluetooth Speaker


Positive site, where did u concoct the data on this posting? I'm satisfied I found it however, sick be returning soon to figure out what extra posts you incorporate. escort in beirut


I am consistently astounded by the measure of data accessible on this subject. What you exhibited was very much inquired about and eloquent keeping in mind the end goal to get your stand on this crosswise over to every one of your perusers. Cheap fifty five printing Discount


" – the first C2B Factory-Direct Custom Platform for Promotional Products, Corporate Gifts, Advertising Specialties, Branded Items and Promotional Gift Items in North America, founded by a BC entrepreneur, is challenging the 100-year traditional industry by its innovative online technology and a rebuilt flat supply chain. It removed all middle men and offers Free Shipping and Free Logo Service to help the corporate customers to save 50-60% on marketing budget on Business Promotion marketing.

C2BPromo believes ""Sharing"" is the essence of business model in future. It created a unique and exclusive investment & marketing platform called ( and welcome everyone who want to help business to grow to join and earn returns from his or her 6-level networks without investing money, purchase and membership fee.

C2BPromo carries a huge experience of 22 years in this industry. It has also worked with thousands of customers from one-man business to Fortune 500 like Google, Heineken, Microsoft, Pfizer, Merck, Citibank and much more. Check here to find out why C2BPromo is your best choice of the supplier of Promotional Products, Branded items and Promotional Gift Items: " | promotional Products


Much obliged to you for such an elegantly composed article. It's brimming with quick data and captivating depictions. Your perspective is the best among numerous. tattoo maori


I'm happy to see the immense point of interest here!. Josh Greenly


We should conserve everything that we have now. All of the things we have now might disappear in the future
Would you definitely check out my blog?


Land once lost its fertility cannot be renewed for ever. So one must not support this


Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article. Inpatient drug detox Portland


This is the type of information I’ve long been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information. Mixbook review


Much thanks to you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to distribute this data extremely helpful! profits