The Conservation Blueprint is an assessment of the health of Santa Cruz County’s natural environment and a roadmap for the next generation of conservation in the county – a guide to how we can work together to protect, in challenging times, the natural beauty and resources that underpin our way of life.
What is the Conservation Blueprint?
- A report that shows important areas to conserve and makes recommendations on how it can be done.
- A report based on current and new research, expert opinion and public input.
- A resource and guide for everyone working to protect Santa Cruz County’s natural environment.
How was the Blueprint developed?
- The Blueprint was developed over 18 months by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County with the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Resources Legacy Fund, and Land Trust members.
- The work was guided by a seven member Steering Committee and drew on the knowledge of 110 experts who attended technical workshops.
- Four community forums were held to solicit public input, with funding provided by the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County.
What are the Blueprint’s key findings about Santa Cruz County?
- Santa Cruz County residents highly value their surroundings and have repeatedly taken steps to protect the beauty and natural resources of the county.
- The county’s plants, animals, habitats, and waters are in decline and face growing threats in the next 25 years.
- Our water supplies are threatened by overdraft of underground aquifers and by increased demand.
- Eighteen of the county’s waterways are listed as impaired bodies under the Clean Water Act – all of which feed into the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary.
- The county’s population is expected to grow by 35,000 in the next 25 years and the population of the four surrounding counties will reach 4 million.
- Under current zoning an additional 17,000 housing units can be built in the county, many of them in rural areas.
- The local economy is built on agriculture and tourism, which are dependent on a healthy natural environment.
What are the Blueprint’s key recommendations?
- The Blueprint prioritizes the protection of lands where we can achieve multiple benefits, including protecting water quality and supply, wildlife habitat, recreation, and productive farm and timber lands.
- The Blueprint recommends that acquisition not be the dominant way we protect land in the future and that we place more emphasis on other innovative conservation tools.
The Blueprint emphasizes protecting land through easements and stewardship incentives, which keep land in private hands and on the tax rolls, while providing jobs.