Rare Salamander Habitat Protected Near Santa Cruz (CA)

Santa Cruz County, CA, 5/3/2007:The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) announced today the permanent public protection of 55 acres in Watsonville. The Larkin Valley property provides crucial habitat for the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, one of the Central Coast’s rarest native species. It will be acquired by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) for habitat protection, research, and environmental education.

“This salamander is only found along a 25-mile stretch of southern Santa Cruz County,” said Reed Holderman, Western Regional Director for TPL. “The Trust for Public Land is proud to have helped protect a piece of this area’s rich natural heritage.”

The 55-acre property has been a top conservation priority for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and CDFG for five years. The parcel contains a pond that provides important breeding habitat for the federally listed endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander as well as the federally listed threatened California red-legged frog. It also supports rare coastal terrace prairie and thriving oak woodlands.

“California is home to more threatened and endangered species than any other state in the country,” said John Donnelly, Executive Director of WCB. “Habitat protection is absolutely critical to their recovery. We were glad to work with The Trust for Public Land to preserve this important property for wildlife habitat, research, and educational opportunities.”

The Larkin Valley property, valued at $1.9 million, was acquired by The Trust for Public Land for $1.8 million. The Wildlife Conservation Board contributed $1.55 million for this acquisition. The remaining $250,000 was provided to the CDFG by the USFWS through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund’s Recovery Land Acquisition grant program.

The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land of recreational, ecological, and historical value for the public. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has protected nearly 2 million acres valued at more than $3.5 billion nationwide. For more information regarding TPL’s work on the Central Coast, please visit our website at www.tpl.org/cal.