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A robust new study of how wildlife reacts to people offers encouraging news to those of us who want access to wildlands but don’t want to disturb wildlife. The study, conducted by four researchers, set up wildlife cameras at 241 locations in 87 protected areas in the eight counties around San Francisco Bay, including Santa Cruz. They tracked the impact on the behavior of 10 animals, including mountain lions, bobcats, and foxes.

Their conclusion: there was no significant effect of recreation on animal behavior, except for confirming that mountain lions (and possums) avoid areas where dogs have been.

This is good news for our trail planning at San Vicente Redwoods, where we are planning to restrict dogs. The access plan is being finalized by the Land Trust and our partners (POST, Sempervirens Fund, and Save the Redwoods League). At this point, the plan closes 7,700 acres of the 8,500 acre forest to all access, while also including 38 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, with 100 foot buffers.

We think the access plan is one of the most environmentally-sensitive plans we’ve ever seen – and it’s good to see evidence that people and wildlife can share this forest, if we do so carefully.

You can read the study here.

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Stephen Slade is the Executive Director at Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. He has more than 40 years non-profit experience in fundraising, communications, and management – and a deep passion for the lands that make Santa Cruz special.

Find out more about Stephen Slade…

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