(831) 464-2950

GrahamHill FuelLoadVegetation that was removed as part of a shaded fuel break project in 2017.The Resource Conservation District (RCD), working with Cal Fire and California State Parks, has scheduled Phase 3 of the Wildfire Fuel Load Reduction project along Graham Hill Road. On Monday, October 8, 2018, crews will begin the removal of invasive Acacia and French broom on approximately 1.4 acres of road front property between Rollingwoods Drive and Lockewood Lane. The work is part of a local ongoing effort to prevent wildfire and improve safety along the Graham Hill corridor. Designated as a high priority by Cal Fire, the project will help to ensure safe ingress and egress along this critical access route in the case of wildfire.

Phase 2 was completed last year when crews created a shaded fuel break involving the removal of low tree branches and dense vegetation. The selective clearing can also have a positive impact on sensitive species by improving critical habitat and reducing the risk of catastrophic fire.

The RCD and Cal Fire are working closely with the current contractor to ensure that best practices are employed to reduce the likelihood of Acacia regrowth. A plan is underway to address the resprouts that are appearing in some of the areas treated in 2016.

Funding for this project was awarded to the RCD through a grant from Cal Fire.

For more information contact Angie Gruys at the RCD at OR 831-464-2950 x22

The RCD works with local fire agencies, fire protection districts and fire safe councils to implement recommendations in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), print and provide a variety of brochures and resource materials and conduct a multitude of public outreach, workshops and educational efforts emphasizing fire safe awareness and prevention. For more information on how residents can prepare for wildfire visit:

Fire Safe Santa Cruz County

Erosion Prevention GridsGrids installed in high traffic areas in paddocks help reduce mud and erosion.The Livestock and Land program, managed locally by the Loma Prieta and San Benito, and Santa Cruz Resource Conservation Districts (RCD’s), is offering $175,000 in grants to local livestock owners in southern Santa Clara and San Benito Counties located in the Pajaro River Watershed. The monies will help pay for improvements to livestock and horse properties that need assistance with managing drainage, erosion, stormwater runoff and manure.

The Livestock and Land program was started in Santa Cruz County by local conservation districts and NGO’s as a way to work affect positive changes to water quality concerns from livestock facilities. The program works with residents on a voluntary basis to reduce stormwater runoff by implementing goodIMG 5203A vegetated filter strip filters runoff from the paddocks and reduces erosion. drainage practices. Past projects have included everything from gutter and downspouts to French drains to manure composting facilities to fencing and more. “The great thing about this program,” explains Dina Iden, Executive Director of the Loma Prieta RCD, “is that the benefits go far beyond water quality improvements to our local creeks and streams. Depending on what upgrades you make, cleaning stalls can get easier, animal health issues can be reduced; maintenance cost can be lowered, your property can be safer, and it may even increase in value. It’s basically a win-win.” According to Iden, property owners can get up to 50% of the cost of improvements covered by the program. And there may be other federal grants programs that can be combined with this program to cover even more of the cost. The program also offers no-cost technical assistance and project designs. Funding for the program is made possible through an EPA Clean Water Grant and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

If you are interested in seeing examples of past projects, visit the program web site at www.livestockandland.org. Applications are currently being accepted for 2018 projects. Contact Dina Iden at 408-847-4171 find out more about the program or to get an application. The program also offers educational workshops and hands-on trainings. You can ask to be added to the mailing list if you would to get updates on these opportunities.


Do you know the water level in your private well?  Observing the level over time can provide insight into the longevity of your well and water supply. In addition to knowing your well’s condition, practicing water conservation is a cost-effective way to increase your well’s lifetime. These efforts also help ensure that we have a long-term water supply in the Mid-County Groundwater Basin. The basin provides drinking water to the residents of Capitola, Live Oak, Soquel and Aptos from the mountains to coast.

Photo 1 Well Access PortFor well level tests, the well heads should have an access port of 5/8 inch (16 mm) or larger.The Resource Conservation District, in a partnership with the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency, is offering free water level and conservation evaluations for well owners in the Mid-county area.  You can enter your address at www.midcountygroundwater.org to determine if you are in the Mid-County Basin boundaries. Water levels are measured by using equipment that sends sound waves down the well through the access port to estimate water depth. It’s best to take the measurement twice per year – once in the spring when water levels are usually at their peak, and once in the fall when they are at their lowest. This range of water levels can be compared with measurements taken in subsequent years to establish trends. Landowners can receive no-cost water level services every year through the County of Santa Cruz.

 

Photo 2 GerryAssessmentGerry Spinelli of the Resource Conservation District checking the flow rate of a sink.A water conservation evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the water level tests. The assessment will look at indoor fixtures to determine what upgrades, if any, will promote the greatest water use reduction. A simple outdoor irrigation audit will also be conducted with the option for more thorough evaluation for properties with large landscapes or agricultural crops. Armed with this information, landowners can take actions to improve conservation efforts and extend the useful life of their well. 

Data collected will be compiled on an anonymous basis to help the Agency better characterize water use in the Basin. The evaluations will also help drive possible services, such as rebates for low water use fixture or efficient irrigation equipment that could benefit well owners. In Santa Cruz County, rebates for low-flow toilets, washing machines, and other fixtures are currently only available to municipal water customers.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or want more information on this service, please contact Angie Gruys at or call (831) 464-2950 X 22.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Take a Load Off!

Davidson 2008 15Free Wildfire Fuel Load Reduction Assistance.

Fire season is underway. The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) is seeking applications for its no-cost chipping program to reduce wildfire fuels around homes, roads and neighborhoods in high-risk areas. Through a grant with the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District, the RCD is providing chipping services to County residents that have excess fuel loads around their properties due to debris from last winter storms. Chipping downed wood and clearing of flammable vegetation around homes is a critical step in reducing fuel loads to create defensible space around structures. This year’s winter rains and recent warm weather have given rise to vegetation which serves as fast and flashy fuel for wildfire. This program helps residents reduce fire hazard.

“The RCD Chipper Program is a critical component of vegetative fuel load reduction projects,” explained Andy Hubbs, Vegetation Management Program Coordinator with CAL FIRE. “With the high number of homes located in fire prone areas, this program is a huge benefit for assisting homeowners to implement and maintain defensible space. CAL FIRE encourages residents to coordinate efforts in your neighborhoods and take advantage of this valuable program.”

The program is available on first-come first service basis and priority will be given to neighborhoods that are able to collect fuel debris from multiple homes and road ways. Applications are available on the RCD web site at:

http://www.rcdsantacruz.org/financial-support

For more information contact Angie Gruys at the RCD at OR 831-464-2950 x22

The RCD works with local fire agencies, fire protection districts and fire safe councils to implement recommendations in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), print and provide a variety of brochures and resource materials and conduct a multitude of public outreach, workshops and educational efforts emphasizing fire safe awareness and prevention.

ScottCreek viewThe Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) today received a $435,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board to support restoration of the Scotts Creek lagoon and marsh ecosystem. This grant is one of three awarded today for salmonid recovery projects in Santa Cruz County – the County and City of Santa Cruz each were awarded funds from the WCB for separate projects in the San Lorenzo River Watershed.

Scotts Creek is a coastal stream in northern Santa Cruz County, which according to the 2012 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Coho Recovery Plan, is regarded as the most important stream for supporting a sustained run of coho and regional recovery. Scotts Creek, its marshplain and lagoon have been significantly impacted and functionally degraded by historic activities, most notably construction of Highway 1. Over the past 10 years, successful restoration projects upstream done in partnership with Cal Poly / Swanton Pacific Ranch have greatly improved spawning habitat. This effort will compliment those projects by focusing on the lagoon and estuary system at Scott Creek.

This project is a collaborative effort between the RCD, the Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, the Regional Transportation Commission, the County and CalPoly / Swanton Pacific Ranch with oversight from a technical advisory committee of the Integrated Watershed Restoration Program. A set of decision support tools and ecological models will be developed and used to prepare engineering designs for the restoration of the lagoon and marsh, which Caltrans will use to inform the design for a replacement bridge.

When implemented, the ecological restoration along with the bridge replacement will result in a hydrologically functioning lagoon and marsh complex with a 21st century transportation corridor, both of which are designed for a changing climate and designed to be multi-beneficial.

Established in 1942, the RCD is a locally-governed special district with the mission of helping people protect, steward and restore natural resources. Originally tasked with helping farmers reduce erosion, the RCD has evolved alongside a changing community and now acts as a hub for land stewardship working with private and public landowners.

The Resource Conservation District, County of Santa Cruz, City of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley Water District are hosting a bus tour and technical training on Thursday, December 15 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM highlighting five local low stormwater project that were recently completed in Soquel, Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz and Live Oak.

The projects demonstrate what is known as Low Impact Development or LID. LID is an approach to land development (or re-development) that works with nature to manage rainwater runoff on site instead of piping it out to the street and into storm drains where it may otherwise contribute to flooding and pollution problems. LID employs principles such as preserving and recreating natural landscape features, minimizing hardened surfaces where water can’t infiltrate into the ground, and creating functional and appealing site drainage systems that treat stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product. LID practices help with long term drought response by capturing stormwater, increasing groundwater recharge, and making water available for future use. As water resources become scarcer and climate change alters rainfall and runoff patterns, it becomes more imperative to maximize the beneficial uses of water and reduce the long-term impacts of development.

Bus Tour and Training in Santa Cruz County

·        Thursday, December 15, 2016
·        9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
·        Cost is $15 and includes a boxed lunch
·        Registration is Required – www.rcdsantacruz.org

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    Capitola, California 95010
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