The links between streambank erosion, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat in Santa Cruz County watersheds are a concern for private landowners, agricultural, conservation, and regulatory interests. In particular, creeks and streams in Santa Cruz County provide critical habitat for the federally protected steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus) and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Riparian vegetation along many of these streams also serves as important migration corridors and habitat for other state and federally protected species such as the California reg-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii). The quality of these habitats has been degraded largely through alterations in streambed morphology associated with implementation of flood control measures, removal of riparian vegetation, and in some cases upslope vegetation, and subsequent accelerated erosion and sedimentation that further degrade these sensitive habitats.
In California, 50% of all land is privately owned. Without participation from private landowners, we the RCD would be unable to meet our conservation goals. We are fortunate to have so many County residents interested in implementing projects on their land. The ultimate goal of the Program is to break down permitting barriers so that landowners can voluntarily implement restoration practices projects. What is most exciting about the Program is helping landowners realize that things which are good for their properties, such as improved roads, decreased flooding potential, and reduced erosion, can also be good for the environment when done right.
Attached is a sample scan of the 2009 Annual Report of Sustainable Conservation showing the Partners in Restoration Permit Coordination Program in action.