Watsonville Wetlands Watch logo

Watsonville Wetlands Watch


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500 Harkins Slough Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076

(831) 728-1156

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Watsonville Wetlands Watch works to preserve, restore, and foster an appreciation of wetlands in the Pajaro Valley. It serves as an educational and volunteer program that teaches students about environmental changes and stewardship.

Since 1991, the organization has advocated for wetland issues, educating elementary through high school students on the importance of the area’s remaining wetlands. It holds a habitat restoration program that “strengthens the natural resources of our region, cleaning our waterways, improving trails and greenbelts, and laying the foundation of the return of wildlife species.” Its website provides access to resources such as bird, plant and fish guides.

Mission Statement

The mission of Watsonville Wetlands Watch is to preserve, restore, and foster appreciation of the wetlands of the Pajaro Valley.

Services

Restoration Programs
*Wildlife Habitat and Open Space Restoration and Stewardship: Working with state, federal, and local partners, we restore native plant communities and wildlife habitats throughout the Pajaro Valley. This diverse landscape supports many native plants and wildlife, including over 270 resident and migratory birds, and 23 native plants and animals that are threatened, endangered, or listed as species of special concern.

*Native Plant Nursery: Housed in our greenhouse at WWW’s Patrick Fitz Educational Resource Center, staff and volunteers collect seeds, propagate, transplant, and monitor young native plants in our nursery. The native plants are transplanted to our restoration sites or planted in our on-site native plant demonstration garden. We hold two plant sales each year to provide native plants to local residents.

*Watsonville Trails and Urban Greening: We work closely with the City of Watsonville to manage and restore natural habitats and enhance storm water quality throughout the City’s easily accessible recreational trail system. We also build new bicycling and walking trails in the region.

*Watsonville Wetlands Climate Action: We promote, design, and implement projects and policies that allow us to adapt to projected sea level rise and climate and weather changes.

*Watsonville Community Forest program: We are planting shade trees along streets, in parks, on school campuses, and in front yards and providing fruit trees to local residents to increase shade, reduce surface temperatures, sequester carbon, and clean our air and water.

*Watsonville Slough System Industry and Ecosystem Partnership: We partner with local growers, businesses, and landowners to provide technical assistance and collaborate on the design and implementation of mutually beneficial restoration projects, such as on-farm wildlife habitat restoration, erosion control and site stabilization, and water quality improvement.

*Youth and Community Volunteer Projects: Community members are at the heart of our restoration work, donating thousands of hours each year. 4th Saturday community planting and stewardship volunteer days allow us to plant and care for thousands of native plants, a key step in enhancing our environment.

*Preservation: We work to preserve what remains whole in our slough ecosystem by working with local, state, and federal partners to preserve over 1,000 acres of wetland habitat areas through direct ownership, managed conservation easements, and partnerships with the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and other public and private stakeholders.

Education Programs
*Wetlands Stewards: We foster environmental leadership by training high school students to mentor middle and elementary school students as they explore the wetlands through field trips and after school activities.

*Climate Corps Leadership Institute: In this year-long program, high school student interns from Watsonville gain hands-on experience in urban forestry, habitat restoration, climate justice, community science monitoring, and community activism - and the confidence to become community leaders in climate action.

*Wetlands Wonders: Fifth-grade student scientists design investigations, then collect and analyze data to explore the health of the wetlands. This year-long program supports Next Generation Science Standards and environmental literacy.

*Project Tierra: We engage students and community volunteers in this community-science program to collect and record environmental science data and monitor the overall biodiversity and health of the wetlands.

*Green School Initiatives: We work with PVUSD students, teachers, and administrators to support school greening initiatives such as composting and waste reduction, sustainability projects, storm water management, and tree planting.

Accomplishments

In the past decade, our restoration work has resulted in observable conservation success stories such as the nesting of bald eagles, the return of winter burrowing owls and other sensitive bird species, and the presence of California red-legged frog egg masses for the first time within several restored wetland areas. Our urban greening efforts are measurably improving the tree canopy, greening the City, and improving water quality in the wetlands and Monterey Bay. Our education programs support current and future environmental conservation by teaching students and community members about the importance of our wetlands, equipping them with the tools of scientific inquiry, preparing them for careers in the sciences, and inspiring environmental leadership and a life-long commitment to stewardship.

Future Initiatives

Our vision is a thriving wetland ecosystem, with the community at the center of its conservation. Our future initiatives include the expansion of our Watsonville Community Forest urban forestry program, restoration of additional wetland and coastal grassland sites, and expansion of our education programs to include offerings at the new Nature Center in Watsonville. Join us in our restoration, conservation, and environmental education work as a volunteer, advocate, or donor, and make a difference for our wetlands and community.

History

Founded in 1991 as an all-volunteer organization, Watsonville Wetlands Watch (WWW) was the Pajaro Valley’s first environmental non-profit. The Watsonville Sloughs are one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the California coastal region, a system of six interlinked sloughs comprising about 800 acres. We advocate for the preservation of this unique resource and act on behalf of the local environment, envisioning a thriving wetland ecosystem, with the community at the center of its conservation.
Our work reflects our core values of community-led environmental stewardship and data-driven environmental science.

We address the current restoration needs of our wetlands, and we ensure their on-going care and stewardship by educating and engaging students and residents and developing future environmental leaders.

Our nature-based, culturally-relevant, and hands-on environmental education and volunteer programs serve thousands of Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) students, getting youth outdoors and inspiring the next generation of leaders, who will address the complex environmental challenges that our community faces.

We involve community members from Watsonville and neighboring areas in supporting our restoration efforts. Our habitat restoration programs strengthen the natural resources of our region, cleaning our waterways, improving trails and greenbelts, and laying the foundation of the return of wildlife species whose future survival depends on thoughtful actions taken today.

Partners

We collaborate with many partner organizations to achieve our mission, including the City of Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Unified School District and Extended Learning Program, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – Urban and Community Forestry Program, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Amah Mutsun Land Trust – Native Stewardship Corps, and Monterey Bay Aquarium. We also partner with scientists and researchers from regional universities and colleges to study our wetlands.

Related News

The Pajaronian logo From The Pajaronian...

07/02/2024
Image for display with article titled Public Input Sought on Ramsay Park Nature Center Design

The City of Watsonville, Watsonville Wetlands Watch (WWW), and Community Arts & Empowerment are teaming up to design and install a new mosaic mural for the entrance wall of the new Nature Center scheduled to open in Ramsay Park in late 2025.

The Pajaronian logo From The Pajaronian...

02/12/2024
Image for display with article titled Hundreds Attend Wetland Restoration Event in Watsonville

More than 250 people celebrated World Wetlands Day on Feb. 3, part of the restoration of Struve Slough. Watsonville Wetlands Watch co-hosted the event with a widespread planting project.

California Local Pin Marker From Santa Cruz Sentinel...

09/20/2023
Santa Cruz County is well-known for its forestry, with approximately 75% of its overall terrain covered by trees, according to Global Forest Watch.

California Local Pin Marker From Santa Cruz County Sentinel...

03/02/2022
Watsonville Wetlands Watch has been selected by the California Natural Resources Agency to receive a $300,000 grant for its internship program, to be funded by state revenue from cannabis taxes.

California Local Pin Marker From Good Times...

09/22/2021
In 1991, an 800-home development was proposed right on top of Watsonville’s Struve Slough, an ecologically significant wetland. Three decades later, the group that fought the development—Watsonville Wetlands Watch—is one of the most influential nonprofits in the region.

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Consider getting involved by volunteering your time, donating money, or both. Above you can learn about what services Watsonville Wetlands Watch provides to the community and easily volunteer, donate, register for services, or connect with them on social media. Visit the Santa Cruz County Community Groups directory to see a comprehensive list of organizations on all subjects that are relevant to creating a vibrant local community.

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