SLV Water District Board Approves Upper Zayante Creek Restoration Project

Zayante Creek with crayfish and steelhead trout. Photo by Bruce Sudweeks. 

An environmental watershed restoration project is scheduled for this summer in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) board of directors voted on May 2 to approve the Upper Zayante Creek Stream Wood Enhancement Project. The effort is a collaboration of multiple agencies and is funded by a $498,426 grant from the State Water Resources Control Board. The project design was funded in 2017 by the California State Coastal Conservancy. 

In the works since 2012 when the National Marine Fisheries Service identified Zayante Creek as a core area for coho salmon recovery, the project is slated to be installed in June this year with 3 to 5 years of monitoring through the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County.

The project’s goal is to “install habitat enhancement structures along one mile of Zayante Creek that will retain sediment, develop riffles, create pools, and provide cover habitat for Steelhead and Coho salmon and address the San Lorenzo River Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load,” according to a slide deck presented to the board and members of the public.

Restoration activity will take place along a one mile stretch of creek channel. Half of that waterway and adjacent land is owned by SLVWD and the other half is owned by the city of Santa Cruz. 

Lisa Lurie, Executive Director of the Resource Conservation District said, “This project is critical for protecting and enhancing the health of the watershed. Zayante Creek is a priority target recovery area for Coho salmon. Zayante Creek has also been identified as a key contributor of sediment pollution to the San Lorenzo River. By increasing stream wood abundance and improving stream complexity, this project will enhance habitat for steelhead and Coho salmon. Stream wood will also improve water quality by sorting sediments and reducing channel erosion.”

SLVWD board president Lois Henry said, “I’m happy to support this type of project. It’s good for the fish, it’s good for the watershed. And it’s funded by a state grant so there is no additional cost to the ratepayer.”

Lurie said, “The Resource Conservation District is thrilled to be partnering with the SLVWD and the City of Santa Cruz to bring this project to fruition.  And with full grant funding from the CA State Coastal Conservancy and the State Water Resources Control Board, this is truly a win-win project that helps the SLVWD achieve the watershed stewardship component of its mission and protects natural resources in the public interest.”

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