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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
North Monterey County development threatens Elkhorn Slough
December 2008

by Mari and Klaus Kloeppel

Chapter members and Friends, Artists and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough (FANS) are working to stop a proposed 103-unit housing project in North Monterey County, called Rancho Los Robles. There is no sustainable water supply for this project as this area suffers from a severely overdrafted groundwater aquifer. This aquifer has been so heavily drawn down that saltwater from the ocean is contaminating water quality, further restricting water supplies for agriculture and domestic use.

Some local wells in this aquifer have gone permanently dry necessitating trucking in water for many families for over a year. Yet, the Monterey County Planning Department has recommended approval based on “overriding considerations.”

Opponents have reviewed and responded to the Environmental Impact Report for Rancho Los Robles and have attended County public hearings on this project. The project would be built only a few hundred yards from Carneros Creek, which drains directly into the Elkhorn Slough only one mile away. Carneros Creek provides approximately 75% of the Slough’s fresh water, making its protection critical to the viability of Elkhorn Slough as a thriving ecosystem.

On October 29, despite the staff recommendation to approve, a majority of the Monterey County Planning Commission voted to recommend denial to the Board of Supervisors. At press time the project was slated to go before the Board on December 9, but there is a high likelihood that the issue will be continued to January.

The fragile watershed and rare natural resources of Elkhorn Slough are also threatened by the 26-unit Rancho Roberto development now on appeal before the California Coastal Commission and 185 new houses proposed by the Pajaro Valley Golf Course. FANS has been working for nine years to stop the destructive cumulative impacts of these projects.

To help or learn more contact the Kloeppels, .

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