Salmonid Restoration Federation
Reconnecting with Resilience
April 19 - 22, 2022
Santa Cruz, California

Salmonid Recovery in the San Lorenzo River Watershed

19 April 2022
9:00am - 5:00pm
Field Tour Coordinators: Chris Berry and Sierra Ryan, City of Santa Cruz

The San Lorenzo River runs from near Castle Rock State Park to the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on beautiful Monterey Bay. The watershed historically hosted the largest steelhead runs south of San Francisco Bay and was the first watershed in the State of California to benefit from a watershed management plan. The watershed has a long history of anthropogenic influence – including the Ohlone habitation around the San Lorenzo River lagoon, the Mission-era water system impacts of the late 1700s, the “lumber, lime and leather” era starting in the late 1800s, the year-round occupation of upper watershed former summer homes by urban refugees in the late 1960s – early 1970s and the more recent focus on fisheries conservation.
Recent restoration efforts in watershed are focused both on drinking water source protection, groundwater sustainability planning and anadromous salmonid recovery. Given the watershed’s provision of drinking water or over 100,000 people, tension between competing beneficial uses of water is omnipresent. However, watershed conditions supporting cold water fisheries are also protective of drinking water source quality – an ongoing challenge in a watershed that is heavily populated and has a long history of industrial and residential development. Leveraging requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act along with Endangered Species Act and Fish and Game Code requirements can create a synergy for watershed recovery that is unique.
Among the important processes that will help with the watershed’s recovery are various TMDLs, Drinking Water Sanitary Surveys, the Regional Conservation Investment Strategy, Karst Protection Zone Planning, Riparian Conservation Plan, Conservation Blueprint for Santa Cruz County and Santa Cruz Anadromous Salmonid Habitat Conservation Plan. The tour will focus on some of the primary issues challenging the watershed’s recovery, recent successes and future opportunities for salmonid recovery and overall watershed protection.