Save the Sandhills
Why Save the Sandhills
There is an ancient seabed in the Santa Cruz Mountains that was formed millions of years ago. It is home to seven species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. Its sandy soil quickly replenishes the aquifer and river that supply clean water to much of the county. Much of this rare habitat has been lost and there are plans to develop luxury housing on the largest remaining property. With the help of major foundation and public agency funders, the people of Santa Cruz County now have the opportunity to save more than 200 acres of this rare habitat – so that generations from now people can still marvel at its wonders.
Like no place else on Earth
15 million years ago a vast shallow sea covered the Central Valley and emptied into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Cruz. Later, when the Santa Cruz Mountains were formed, the ancient sea floor was lifted up and became what we now know as the Sandhills – a rare habitat between the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley. You can still find fossils there of sand dollars, extinct sharks, and other ancient ocean species. You can also find at least seven species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. Peter Raven, one of the world’s leading biodiversity experts, calls the Sandhills “the Galapagos Islands of Santa Cruz County.”
Read what botanist Peter Raven says about the global importance of saving the Sandhills…
The sandy soil of these hills sits over the Santa Margarita Aquifer. Rain that falls on these hills percolates quickly into the aquifer, which is the source of half the water for over 18,000 people in central Santa Cruz County. This sandstone aquifer also feeds the San Lorenzo River and its tributaries, vital sources of water for thousands and for the survival of the coho salmon.
The threat to the Sandhills
Most of this special habitat has already been lost or is fragmented into small parcels and threatened by development. Thousands of acres have been lost to sand quarrying and residential development. Nearby population centers have also increased destructive recreational uses, including off-road vehicles, mountain bikes (right), and horseback riding – all of which are very destructive to the fragile soils of the Sandhills. In the center of this habitat, where the native biodiversity is greatest, less than 250 acres have been protected. There are now plans to develop the largest undeveloped property.
More about Saving the Sandhills
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