Students from UCSC monitor native plant cover
along a transect line on a restored grassland site
Did you know that there are 23 native plant and animal species found in the Watsonville wetlands listed as threatened, endangered, or species of special concern? Many of these wildlife species depend on grasslands and meadows for their survival. Ducks and other grassland-dependent birds such as horned larks and savannah sparrows nest there. White-tailed kites, Coopers hawks, and the American kestrel are some of the raptors who hunt there, and snakes, voles, frogs, and ground squirrels rely on the grasslands for forage and habitat. Over the last few years, the Watch has been working to restore native grasslands and wet meadows surrounding the sloughs in an effort to provide critical habitat for the slough’s wildlife.
Essential to our grassland and meadow restoration effort is a robust monitoring program that helps us understand how successful our methods have been and enables us to plan improvements for future projects. This year, a senior seminar in restoration ecology from the University of California Santa Cruz joined us in the monitoring of grassland restored along Hanson Slough on the Watsonville Slough Farms property. One of these students is using this site to compare our restoration work with other native grassland restoration efforts in the County. We’ll report on what we found on this day of monitoring in a future e-letter. Stay tuned!
California poppies and bi-color lupine grown from seed on
a restored grassland along Hanson Slough
Experience the Wetlands
on a Wetlands Alive! Tour
Photo by Denise Murphy
Discover the natural wonders of the wetlands on this fun, family-oriented tour of the wetlands and our Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions). Upcoming tour dates are on Saturdays, June 8, June 22, July 13, and July 27, starting at 10 a.m. Tours are free, but please call or email Kathy Fieberling, 831-345-1226, email@example.com by Friday noon before the tour to reserve a place. For more information, click here.
Speaker Series: Red-legged Frogs and Western Pond Turtles
in the Lower Pajaro Valley
Western pond turtle adult and hatchling. Photo: Gary Kittleson
California red-legged frogs and western pond turtles are cryptic and elusive native residents of the Watsonville Sloughs and the Pajaro River system. Although widely distributed in the area, both species are seldom observed and, therefore, poorly understood. Current, focused studies on the Santa Cruz Land Trust’s Watsonville Slough Farm and along the lower Pajaro River have begun to shed some light on the behavior and life history of these quiet, yet persistent, protected species.
California red-legged frogs
On Thursday, July 18, Gary Kittleson, environmental consultant for these ongoing studies, will describe the current state of knowledge about California red-legged frogs and western pond turtles in the lower Pajaro Valley. He will also share the preliminary results of his recent study of these frogs and Pajaro River turtles.
From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Fitz Educational Resource Center, at the top of the Pajaro Valley High School campus in Watsonville. Map/directions. Admission is free but you must reserve a seat by contacting Kathy Fieberling at 831-345-1226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4th Saturday Restoration Day
We invite you to help restore wetland habitat by planting native plants and removing exotic invasive plants as part of our monthly community work day on June 22. We will work from 9 a.m. until noon, and we always make time for birding or a short hike around the wetlands. We supply the gloves, tools, and a snack. Meet at our Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions). If you have questions, please contact Mary Paul at email@example.com or 831-566-4938.
Saturday Open House
Would you like to hold a live snake, use a microscope to look at aquatic insects, touch animal pelts and examine skulls? On the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, we invite you and your family to visit the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions), where kids of all ages will enjoy fun activities as they learn about the wetlands. This month’s Open Houses are on June 8 and 22 from noon until 3 p.m.
Protect Precious Habitat
by Supporting Our Work
You can partner with us as we protect, restore and foster appreciation of the Watsonville wetlands by supporting us with your donation. Contribute online by going to our website; or by sending a donation in the mail to WWW, P.O. Box 1239, Freedom, CA 95019. Contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS rules for non-profit organizations and are greatly appreciated!
Why I don’t travel more often
by docent Susan Drake
a gliding heron
a glint of sun
Why bother to go elsewhere?
Watsonville Wetlands Watch advocates for wetland issues, educates elementary, middle, and high school students, restores degraded habitats, preserves what remains whole, and teaches appreciation for the unique beauty and life of the Pajaro Valley wetlands. In cooperation with numerous other agencies, we support studies of and planning for these sites.