Endangered Salamander Habitat Protected (CA)

SANTA CRUZ, CA, 6/9/04 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the California Wildlife Conservation Board announced the purchase and permanent protection of the largest undeveloped area of chaparral and coastal woodlands on the west side of Highway 1 between Aptos and Watsonville. The 289-acre Buena Vista property is the newest addition to the California Department of Fish and Game’s Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander State Ecological Reserve. The property, valued at $6.7 million, will be managed under a cooperative agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of the nearby Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge. The property, once considered for a golf course development, provides critical wildlife habitat for rare and endangered species, and contributes to the quality of coastal and drinking water.

“I was happy to be able to help the Trust for Public Land in their efforts to protect the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander. The Central Coast region is home to many vulnerable animal and plant species and protecting these natural resources is part of maintaining the unique character of our area,” said Congressman Sam Farr (CA-17.)

“We are very grateful to Representative Sam Farr for his support of this important project and supporting a key federal grant necessary to complete the public purchase,” said Reed Holderman, Executive Director of the Trust for Public Land -California. “We extend our thanks to our many partners for helping to see this conservation effort through.”

“Protection of the Buena Vista property is a milestone in the recovery and survival prospects for endangered species in the area. The property is one of the largest remaining undeveloped properties in the area–supporting several fragile habitat communities and an amazing diversity of plants. The Buena Vista property will provide a needed permanent refuge for local wildlife,” says Marge Kolar, the Refuge Complex Manager of San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Funding for the purchase came from a variety of state and federal funding sources, including a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Recovery Land Acquisition Program, federal Transportation Enhancement Activity funds, and from California voter-approved Proposition 50 bond funds through the California Wildlife Conservation Board and the California Coastal Conservancy.

Other individuals and groups who lent their support for this project are Assembly member John Laird, Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz County Planning Department, Open Space Alliance, Santa Cruz Bird Club, and Balance Hydrologics.

The property includes the upper reaches of Gallighan Slough which drains into the Watsonville Slough system and ultimately out into the ocean. Protection of this property from residential or golf course development will enhance coastal and ground water quality. The soil types on the property are excellent for groundwater recharge, replenishing the much needed groundwater reserves which are threatened by salt water intrusion. Watsonville depends exclusively on groundwater for all of its freshwater supplies, and protecting properties such as Buena Vista is an important step towards protecting these critical resources.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect nearly 2 million acres. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.