Wetland Habitat Restoration

Salinas River State Beach Dune Restoration Project

Recent sea level rise (SLR) hazard maps, created by the State Coastal Conservancy and ESA PWA (2014) for the Monterey Bay Coast, identify sections of the Salinas River State Beach and adjacent dune systems as being highly vulnerable to climate change induced dune and beach erosion and storm induced flooding. A study conducted by the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) in 2012 also shows this region to be at the highest risk to SLR. Salinas River State Beach (SRSB) and its adjacent dune systems provide a natural ocean barrier to thousands of acres of low lying agricultural and wetlands resources that are protected from winter storms by these dunes. Small breaches in the most vulnerable sections of the SRSB could allow ocean flooding of vast areas of the Salinas Valley. We seek to reduce coastal vulnerability of two breach points in the dune complex by improving the natural adaptive capacity of these coastal dunes (Figure 2). Sand dunes, in their natural state, retard wave run-up erosion and minimizing ocean induced flooding, while providing critical habitat to many special status species. However, the natural dune vegetation at SRSB and its adjacent dunes has been disrupted by the introduction of ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) and other invasive plants. Ice plant is an invasive species that has choked local dune systems and impacted important physical and ecological dune functions. The documented degradation of foredune habitat by invasive species undermines the dune’s capacity to act as a protective barrier to sea level rise (Jenks et al. 2014). Restoring impacted dune areas identified to be most vulnerable to SLR will not only help restore a unique and sensitive habitat of the Salinas Beach Natural Preserve and rivermouth lagoon, but will also enhance the resiliency of the dune system from the multiple impacts of SLR.  

 

Moro Cojo Slough Management and Enhancement

Map of the Moro Cojo Slough WatershedMap of the Moro Cojo Slough WatershedThe ongoing Moro Cojo Slough Project directly targets several environmental and water quality problems identified in the Moro Cojo Slough Management and Enhancement, Northern Salinas Valley Watershed Restoration, and the Central Coast Regional Toxic Hot Spot Cleanup Plans by implementing measures that address the primary goals and objectives of these plans, within the context of an active large-scale agricultural setting. Our specific goals are the enhancement and restoration of the natural resource services of the wetlands, floodplains, and adjacent upland habitats of these watersheds. This includes wildlife habitat, flood control, and mitigation to the impacts of human activities on wetland resources (particularly those that affect water quality). Furthermore, our efforts demonstrate the use and advantages of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the watershed, while providing natural resource interpretation, educational, and research benefits.

The upper end of the Seamist restoration project in the lower Moro Cojo SloughThe upper end of the Seamist restoration project in the lower Moro Cojo SloughThe following are final reports from various grant funded efforts in the Moro Cojo watershed:

To learn about some of the specific projects we have worked on as part of the Moro Cojo restoration, click on these documents to download a PDF about a site:

 

Santa Rita Creek Restoration

CCWG has been working with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County, the Bolsa Knolls Watershed Group, and the Santa Rita Elementary School to improve the Alisal/Tembladero subwatershed. The emphasis of this effort is on reducing polluted runoff from irrigated agriculture and improving the habitat and water quality conditions of both urban and rural stretches of Santa Rita Creek in Salinas, CA. The project is a holistic approach to improving water quality conditions in a watershed with over 60 TMDLs resulting from upstream agricultural practices and urban development. These pollutants are currently left untreated as they flow from the upstream agriculture through this densely populated urban area. This creates a public health risk.

The following efforts have been made towards improvements in this watershed:

  • The Coastal Conservancy provided Integrated Watershed Restoration Program (IWRP) funds to develop restoration plans and obtain permits to restore Santa Rita Creek where it runs along Ferrasci Little League field. Plans were completed in 2013 and permits were completed in early 2014.
  • Through the Greater Monterey County IRWMP, more funding was provided for the project entitled “Watershed Approach to Water Quality Solutions.” The IRWMP funding allowed CCWG to implement the plans paid for and permitted through IWRP by doing the on‐the‐ground restoration of the creek. Restoration regraded the creek over one key stretch, establish native plants in local landscapes to reduce erosion, improved aquatic habitat and provided aesthetic beauty. In addition to the restoration activities, the Sanctuary will be working with the community and doing water quality analysis, while the RCD works with the surrounding agriculture to reduce upstream inputs of tail water and sediment. 
  • Link to Restoration Assessment


  • Additinal funding has been obtained from the Community Foundation of Monterey County to remove invasive plants and plant natives along a stretch of Santa Rita Creek adjacent to the elementary school.  CCWG worked with Returen of the Natives (CSUMB) to do in-classroom activities, as well as student and community planting days at the site.

 

 

North Monterey County High School Restoration Planning

CCWG is working with the School District to develop a restoration plan for a large parcel of land owned by the District immediately adjacent to the High School in Castroville. The area intersects the Upper Moro Cojo Slough, and is known to be home to the endangered Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander. With input from partners that include the USFWS, CDFW, the Resource Conservation Districts of Santa Cruz and Monterey County, the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and John Gilcrest & Associates, the design will need to take into account the needs of the species and the restrictions with working around them, as well as benefitting the students at the school. In August of 2014, the Coastal Conservancy granted some Integrated Watershed Restoration Program funds to begin drafting this plan.