Scientists at the Watershed Institute, a part of the Earth Systems Science and Policy program at California State University, Monterey Bay have received a grant to demonstrate practical restoration and enhancement for some of California's most valuable, productive, and scenic landscapes. The $460,000 two-year grant from the Conservation Program of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation will further advance demonstration-scale watershed restoration in the agricultural and urban landscape of the Salinas Valley and increase watershed awareness in decision-makers in the surrounding communities.
The watershed of the Salinas Valley has been greatly altered by human activity over the past 200 years from extreme over-grazing by massive Spanish cattle herds of the 19th century to the current intensive agricultural and housing developments within the valley. The cumulative loss of wetlands, native plant communities, and riverbank corridors has resulted in large-scale changes and in some cases elimination of natural watershed and wildlife populations.
The impact to water quality has been so great in Monterey County that the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board listed a number of the waterbodies in the Northern Salinas Valley as impaired due to their unacceptable levels of pathogens and siltation. The majority of the toxicity exhibited is from chemicals in the water and sediments. The sources of these chemicals and sediments are the developed urban and agricultural watersheds of the Salinas Valley.
CSUMB's Watershed Institute most recent grant will work in eight sites around the County, which have been identified as particularly valuable for demonstrating watershed restoration techniques. Working in cooperation with landowners and agencies, staff from the Watershed Institute, CSUMB students, high school students, and community groups will work to restore native plant communities, wildlife habitat, and watershed function at the restoration sites. Of the eight sites, four are already under way: Moro Cojo Slough; parcels of the Bureau of Land Management on the former Fort Ord; Salinas River; and Natividad Creek in Salinas. The four new projects will be Toro Creek; additional work at Moro Cojo Slough; a Salinas valley cattle ranch; and along the Salinas River.
"The grant provides opportunities for the Watershed Institute and CSUMB students to work cooperatively with agricultural and agency landowners for environmental benefit and for the advancement of knowledge about the watershed of the beautiful and highly productive Salinas Valley," says Scott Hennessy, Project Director for the Watershed Institute.
The Watershed Institute is a direct action, community-based coalition of researchers, educators, students, and volunteers dedicated to restoring the watersheds of the Monterey Bay region. The Watershed Institute provides hands-on opportunities for students to participate in applied research, restoration projects, policy decisions and education. The Watershed Institute has been affiliated with CSU Monterey Bay since the university was opened.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News