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What's at Stake

From Highlights from A Conservation Blueprint

Santa Cruz County is a small, mostly rural and largely undeveloped county, just minutes away from the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area. For over a hundred years, its citizens have worked hard to protect the county from the inevitable impacts of that proximity. California’s first state park, Big Basin, was created to protect the majestic redwoods from being turned into Bay Area buildings. In the midst of the Great Depression the protection of the county’s glorious coast began with Natural Bridges State Park. In the 1970s the people of Santa Cruz County voted for one of the first and strongest growth control measures in the state – in response to explosive growth like that which had destroyed so many cherished California landscapes. More recently Watsonville voters placed limits on their city’s growth to protect the rich farmland of the Pajaro Valley. The protection of the county’s natural landscape is part of our history and testimony to our values.

And what a landscape it is! The rugged mountains and deep forests feed the rivers and streams that flow into the Monterey Bay, a place so rich in marine life that it has been declared a national marine sanctuary. These forests are home to an amazingly diverse variety of plant and wildlife – and a source of renewable building materials. Miles of beaches stretch out below steep cliffs topped by fields and grasslands. Our local farmers’ markets overflow with an abundance of fruits and vegetables and local farmers sell their bounty all over the world.

We live surrounded by a stunning natural wealth that nourishes us in ways measurable and immeasurable. It provides us with the water that is the basis of all life. We breathe clean air, play on the beaches, walk in the mountains, eat the food. Our local economy is built on farming and tourism. Our children grow up knowing magical places.

We have worked to protect all this for generations and this work is not done. All is not safe and sound in this magical place. There are threats seen and unseen – and there are things we can do to protect this special place for future generations, just as generations past protected what we enjoy today.



More about the Conservation Blueprint