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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

County changes policy on instream wood

April 2009
Healthy Stream
A log has fallen across this creek forming a deep pool on the upstream side where fish can hide. Photo by Kevin Collins

In a victory for fish, the Santa Cruz County Supervisors unanimously agreed at their March 3 meeting to change the County policy of removing logs that fall into area streams. As reported in our last Ventana, fallen logs create fish habitat and stabilize stream banks.

Under the amended program, “County staff will not remove, cut-up or otherwise modify accumulations of large woody material (LWM) in county streams that support salmonids or other special status species unless it is determined that such accumulations pose a clear and immediate threat to public safety, public infrastructure or aquatic habitat.” Any modification or removal of LWM will be carried out only as directed by a state or federal agency or by Water Resources Division Director following a consultation with a geomorphologist, fishery biologist, Department of Fish & Game, and/or NOAA Fisheries.

Private property owners will need permits from the Department of Fish & Game to remove or modify large insteam wood. The County will disseminate information to the public on the value of LWM for habitat and natural stream function and the terms of the county policy. The county will also document, including photos, the large wood that is modified or removed and that which is retained as is.

Thanks to everyone who contacted the Supervisors and worked to make this policy change happen.

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