Our proposed “Santa Maria River Healthy Watershed Initiative” will bring much needed attention and monitoring to this watershed focusing on the highly impaired areas of the Santa Maria River Estuary and Orcutt-Solomon Creek tributary. While some studies and plans have been completed in the past, sufficient action has not been taken to enact plan recommendations or perform consistent monitoring. This project will develop real action in this neglected watershed and its impaired estuary. The Santa Maria River watershed is one of the four largest river systems within the northern range of the federally endangered Southern California Steelhead Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and supports large urban and agricultural areas. This initiative builds partnerships with local organizations and stakeholders to generate concepts for water quality and habitat improvements. Local volunteers are organized to collect monthly water quality monitoring data from the Santa Maria River Estuary, the state’s highest legacy DDT estuary. We will develop a framework for an index or report card for the watershed. Education and outreach are an important part of this project and will increase the local visibility and awareness of the river and watershed, providing a valuable nexus with nature and an opportunity to harness local support for future projects. The Santa Maria and Guadalupe areas are home to many agricultural and disadvantaged communities, which have less access to resources about nature or opportunities to recreate in or engage with it. By working with the communities to build this initiative, we foster connections between communities and their local ecosystems. Funds support projects to engage stakeholders, monitor current conditions, further develop existing project concepts, and involve local partners in education and outreach efforts for children, college students, and adults.
Creek Lands Conservation
Santa Maria River Healthy Watershed Initiative
California Watershed Protection Fund, 2020
Water Resources / Watershed Protection
Santa Barbara County