Since 2011, when it began its Dreaming the Salinas initiative, restoration and conservation of the Salinas River has been a high priority for Ecologistics. Programs and field trips devoted to the Salinas were featured at our 2011, 2012 and 2013 Central Coast Bioneers Conferences. In 2016 we held the Salinas River Symposium, which brought together governmental agencies, nonprofits, universities and interested citizens to hear presentations and discuss concerns about the Salinas. Out of that Symposium the Salinas Watershed Working Group was born, which met several times in 2016 to examine how to make a watershed plan for the Salinas a reality.
In January 2018, that hope took a giant step forward when Biodiversity First!, a local nonprofit working to preserve and protect wildlands and species, agreed to fund a position for a Watershed Coordinator to develop a watershed management plan for the Salinas. The Coordinator, who will be overseen by the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District (RCD), will work closely with government agencies, non-profits, and individual citizens in the community to develop the plan. Devin Best, Executive Director of the RCD, who has been involved with the Dreaming the Salinas initiative since the beginning, made the successful request for the grant. “The partnership between Upper Salinas – Las Tablas RCD and Biodiversity First! will provide the opportunity to develop a comprehensive Salinas Watershed Management Plan by having a Watershed Coordinator tasked with coordinating and developing this effort,” says Devin. “Although other efforts have been underway, those efforts were limited in scope; either in geographic boundaries or consideration of natural resource management issues. With my knowledge and input from stakeholders in the Salinas, the need for a comprehensive watershed management plan is real and likely overdue. It’s a great privilege and honor to be able to work with the stakeholders, BDF!, and the watershed coordinator to tackle this issue.”
The RCD has issued a request for proposal for the coordinator position, which is due by February 27. For more information, click here.
Protecting what matters
On the Central Coast of California, one of the largest watersheds is the Salinas River, encompassing 4,160 square miles in two counties. Prior to its over-drafting, the Salinas supported enormous steelhead runs. The health and vitality of the Salinas River has been in decline for decades due to a variety of factors, including poor land use management, water operations, reduced habitat, and recreational activities. Although steelhead still exist in the Salinas River, their yearly numbers have been dramatically reduced and there is concern they may be extirpated from the watershed. Once an incredibly diverse ecosystem supporting oak woodlands and a wide variety of species from brown bear to beaver to steelhead, it is now a depleted and dysfunctional river in need of life support. Biodiversity First! is underwriting a full study and the development of a management plan to bring the Salinas back to health and vitality, and to restore the many ecosystems dependent upon it.
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