Wildlife Species Recovery

Santa Cruz County is home to 26 rare plant and animal species, a number of globally rare habitats, more than 850 miles of waterways, 18,000 acres of grasslands, and over 1,500 acres of wetlands. However, past land use and land practices have resulted in the loss or degradation of these critical habitats that native flora and fauna have evolved to depend on.

To enhance habitat to aid in the recovery of threatened and endangered wildlife species in Santa Cruz County, the RCD has become a leader and an innovator in developing and implementing habitat restoration projects.

When you bring back a fish species like a salmon here in a creek, it benefits hundreds of other species, the entire ecosystem benefits, not just the fish. --Tom Gandesbery, Project Manager, California Coastal Conservancy

For example, the RCD works with landowners and partners to build and improve wetlands that support recovery of the endangered Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander, which is a species endemic to the Santa Cruz region and the threatened California Red-Legged Frog, the largest native frog in the western United States. Wetlands provide food, protection from predators, and other vital habitat factors, but also have economic value associated with recreational and commercial uses, as well as scenic value. In addition, wetlands remove pollutants, increase groundwater recharge, and reduce flooding.

The RCD also develops and implements projects to aid in the recovery of threatened and endangered Steelhead and Coho salmon, including streamwood enhancement projects, barrier removal projects, and sediment removal projects, to name just a few. Other species that the RCD is focused on include Monarch butterflies, California Tiger Salamander.

We have also secured funding to work with local partners to improve habitat for the Western Monarch butterfly.

Additionally, the RCD’s Partners in Restoration Permit Coordination Program provides expedited permitting for projects taking place in sensitive habitat to ensure protections for these species.

Contact the RCD for assistance.

Conservation benefit: Move the needle on species recovery in a positive direction for species of concern in the Santa Cruz region.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
City of Santa Cruz
County of Santa Cruz
US Fish and Wildlife Service

State Coastal Conservancy
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Wildlife Conservation Board

RCD Contact: Daniel Nylen

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