Wildlife Habitat and Open Space Restoration and Stewardship:
The Pajaro Valley has over a thousand acres of protected open space and public lands preserved for wildlife habitat, as well as countless acres on private lands. These areas support a tremendous amount of native plants and wildlife, including over 250 resident and migratory birds, and 23 native plants and animals that are threatened, endangered, or listed as species of special concern. They reflect a diverse landscape: coastal prairies and grasslands, oak woodlands, wet meadows, wetlands, and riparian corridors. Working with many State, Federal, and local partners, we restore native plant communities and wildlife habitats throughout this area. While there is still work to be done, the past decade has seen many conservation success stories like the nesting of bald eagles and the return of winter burrowing owls.
Youth and Community Volunteer Projects:
Community members are at the heart of our restoration work, donating over 3000 hours of work towards our projects each year. We welcome their participation as it ensures that the community is playing a central role in the transformation of the local environment. Student field trips, weekend volunteer projects, and community planting and stewardship volunteer days throughout the year allow us to plant and care for thousands of native plants, a key step in enhancing our environment.
Watsonville Trails and Urban Greening:
Watsonville’s wetlands are spread throughout the City of Watsonville, and support both an amazing greenbelt and a trail network for bicycling and walking. These provide members of the community with easily-accessible opportunities for recreation and exercise. We work closely with the City of Watsonville to manage and restore natural habitats throughout the City’s trails and wetlands, and to develop projects that enhance storm water quality. We are also working to build new trails in the region.
Watsonville Slough System Industry and Ecosystem Partnership:
Business, industry, and private landowners play an important role in the management of wetlands and natural habitat throughout our region. We partner closely with local growers, businesses, and landowners to provide technical assistance and promote collaboration on design and implementation of high-priority restoration and enhancement projects, such as creation of on-farm habitat restoration projects, erosion control and site stabilization, and creative water quality improvement practices as well as support for endangered plants and animals. The goal of this work is to demonstrate that we can improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat, and promote environmental services in a way that supports not only of the environment but also local businesses, industry, and landowners.
Watsonville Wetlands Climate Action Project:
As a coastal estuary and wetland system, the Watsonville Slough System is on the front lines of climate change. Projected sea level rise, increased storm strength, and changes in the climate are likely to threaten the Watsonville wetlands, and wildlife that depend on these wetlands, in a variety of ways. The Watsonville community is also likely to face a variety of challenges associated with climate change that can be moderated through the restoration of our local environment. We are working to promote, design, and implement projects that allow us to adapt to these changes. These include improving and expanding trails and transportation greenbelts, open spaces, and urban tree plantings; increasing the carbon capture within local wetlands and grasslands; increasing flood capacity, and testing new restoration practices that can aid riparian and wetland areas in addressing sea level rise.