The San Lorenzo Valley Water District owns approximately
2,000 acres of land in the San Lorenzo River Watershed, which
supplies surface and ground water to the District's customers.
The District's watershed land is in four separate acreages:
Olympia Watershed, Fall Creek, Zayante Creek and Ben Lomond
A key part of the District's mission is "to
manage and protect the environmental health of the aquifers
and watersheds." Ongoing watershed stewardship is needed
to protect these valuable resources. Stewardship includes controlling
invasive species and trespass, reducing fire risk, protecting
and restoring sensitive species and monitoring progress.
Watershed Management Plan has been completed. Management
plans are in the works for the Fall Creek, the Zayante Creek,
and the Ben Lomond Mountain properties.
Above: The Olympia Watershed is one four primary
watershed landholdings of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District.
Watershed stewardship is needed to protect groundwater resources
and sensitive species.
WATERSHED DATA COLLECTION/RESTORATION PROJECTS
Since 2009, the District has implemented several
data collection and restoration projects at the Olympia Watershed.
District staff, consultants, government agencies, previous Education
Grant recipients, and volunteers have participated in these projects.
If you plan to propose a 2012 Data Collection/Restoration Grant
project at the Olympia Watershed for funding by the District's
Education Program, please refer to the links below for information
about ongoing and completed work in the following recommended
SPECIES CONTROL PROJECTS AT OLYMPIA WATERSHED
The map below indicates the locations
of existing invasive species and invasive species control projects:
This map serves as a baseline to plan future
implementation and monitoring projects. The following photos
indicate the types of invasive species that have been targeted:
Yellow-star thistle beginning to invade in 2008
Site of invasive exotic yellow-star thistle
infestation in 2008. After removing the visible plants,
the District was awarded a WMA grant in 2009 to continue
addressing this problem.
Eradication of yellow-star thistle underway
More than 4,000 yellow-star thistle plants
were removed by Ken Moore from this site on the Olympia
watershed property in 2009, partially funded by the District's
first WMA grant. The District continues to monitor the site.
Invasive, exotic French broom increases
the fuel load and threatens sensitive habitats
A heavy infestation of French broom on the
Olympia watershed property is a potential fuel source and
the target of ongoing control projects by the San Lorenzo
Valley Water District, partially funded by both WMA and
Invasive, exotic acacia increases the
fuel load and threatened sensitive habitats in 2008.
Entrance road to the Olympia watershed property,
overgrown with acacia in 2008.
Entrance road to the Olympia Watershed property,
after acacia trees were cut and stem-treated by Ken Moore,
invasive plant eradication expert, as part of the District's
USFWS Partners grant. Downed acacia is burned after cut and
The Ben Lomond fire crew burns acacia felled
a year earlier by Ken Moore on the central part of the Olympia
Watershed property. This project is ongoing, and was partially
funded by a 2009 WMA grant.
WATERSHED VOLUNTEER PROGRAM ORGANIZATION
Since 2009, the District has implemented several
Olympia Watershed invasive species control projects, which have
included volunteers organized primarily by Ken Moore, principal,
Wildlands Restoration Team. Moore recruited and organized volunteer
work parties to control acacia and broom, for projects funded
in part by the state Weed Management Agency and by the District's
Education Grant program.
2010 Acacia Control Project-training
and recruitment of volunteers
The goal of the District's 2010 Weed Management Area Grant was
to contain stands of invasive exotic acacia (Acacia dealbata)
at the Olympia Watershed.
Ken Moore trained a crew of volunteers to use
appropriate methods of vegetation removal, including cutting,
stem treatment, and piling for later burning in the quarry area.
Staff recruited volunteers from a list of UCSC
students of Professor Ingrid Parker, who is monitoring populations
of the Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana)
on District property, and from the attendance list at the District's
October 2010 public meeting to inform the public about the management
of the Olympia watershed property. The meeting was attended by
61 people, many of whom expressed a desire to participate in watershed
maintenance activities, including invasive species control.
2010 Education and Broom Removal
Program-recruitment of volunteers
Moore was awarded a 2010 Education Program Grant
to initiate and implement the first phase of the Olympia Watershed
education and broom removal program. While many volunteers were
recruited and the project work plan was completed, the following
final project report explains some of the issues involved with
recruitment of volunteers:
Final Project Report - Ken Moore,
June 27, 2011
Events were held every Sunday beginning April
10 and ending May 29, for a total of 8 events. The goals of the
project were met. Areas for broom removal bordering present or
potential 1a or 1b sandhills habitat designations were identified,
and broom removal was initiated in the highest priority areas
on these sites. Some follow-up pulling was also done on previously
worked sites. Pictures
of all sites where work occurred were taken following removal
and are included in this report.
As stated in the proposal, education was a high
priority, and was provided on an ongoing basis throughout the
day with all participants. Many attendees said that learning about
this rare habitat was a major incentive for them to come, and
commented about how much they had learned by the end of the day.
At least two of them wrote summaries of what they learned for
presentation to their class at their respective schools, San Jose
State University, and San Lorenzo Valley High School.
Due to a combination of unavoidable factors, attendance
was somewhat less than anticipated. The season for broom removal
was already well underway by the time grant funding was awarded,
and the first project had to be scheduled before outreach could
be done. Additionally, although extremely unusual in late April
and May, rain was either predicted for or actually occurring the
mornings of five of the following seven Sundays. Easter occurred
on April 24 and Mother's Day on May 8. These two holidays always
have a severe impact on volunteer projects, as does the prediction
of rain on the morning of scheduled projects -- even if rain does
not then occur.
STATUS SPECIES SURVEYS, MAPS, AND MONITORING
Two rare biotic communities have been documented
on the Olympia Watershed property, sand chaparral and sand parkland
(Harvey & Stanley Associates, Inc., 1983; McGraw, 2004; Schettler,
Sand parkland contains the highest diversity and abundance of
rare and unique herbaceous plant species, including the three
endemic to the sandhills: the Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe
pungens ssp. hartwegiana), Santa Cruz wallflower (Erysimum teretifolium),
and Ben Lomond buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum var. decurrens) (McGraw,
Rare animal species associated with sand parkland communities
including the Mount Hermon June beetle, the Zayante band-winged
grasshopper (which are present at the Olympia Watershed) and the
Santa Cruz kangaroo rat (which has not been observed there since
The Zayante band-winged grasshopper is an extremely rare species,
found only in open habitat characteristic of sand parkland within
the Santa Cruz Sandhills. The species was listed as federally
endangered in 1997. The Mount Hermon June beetle (Polyphylla barbata)
is found only in the Santa Cruz Sandhills, where it inhabits both
the sand parkland and sand chaparral communities. The species
is also listed as federally endangered.
Local botanist Suzanne Schettler was awarded an Education Grant
by the District in 2011 to identify and map rare plants of the
sandhills communities (sand specialty plants) at the Olympia Watershed
property. Schettler surveyed and mapped 56 of the 83 plants associated
with the sandhills at the Olympia Watershed property. The following
links provide information about this project:
2012 Sand Specialty Plant Map of the Olympia
Watershed. (More detailed maps are available for scientific
research with permission of the District.)
Table 2-3 in the District's Olympia Watershed Planning and
Recommendations Report lists all known sand specialty plants,
and indicates which were identified on the property.
Table 2-3. Sand specialty plants of the
Present at Olympia Watershed
Artemisia pycnocephala (sand
Calochortus venustus (extinct?)
Ceanothus cuneatus var. dubius
Chorizanthe pungens var.
Ben Lomond Spineflower
Chrysopsis villosa var. camphorata
Ruby Chalice Clarkia
Collinsia barstiaefolia var.
White Chinese Houses
Cryptantha clevelandii var.
Cryptantha muricata var.
Santa Cruz Cypress
Delphinium parryi ssp. seditosum
Dudleya cymosa (sand ecotype)
Eriogonum nudum var. decurrens
Ben Lomond Wallflower
Vulpia microstachys var.
Festuca octoflora var. hirtella
Vulpia octoflora var. hirtella
Vulpia microstachys var.
Gnaphalium canescens ssp.
Haplopappus ericoides ssp.
Horkelia cuneata ssp. cuneata
Horkelia cuneata var. cuneata
Lasthenia californica ssp.
Layia platyglossa (sand ecotype)
Linanthus parviflorus (sand
Linaria canadensis var. texana
Lotus scoparius var. scoparius
Acmispon glaber var. glaber
Silver Bush Lupine
Yellow Bush Lupine
Lupinus bicolor ssp. umbellatus
Lindley's Annual Lupine
Luzula comosa var. comosa
Mimulus rattanii var. decurtatus
Monardella undulata ssp.
Oenothera contorta strigulosa
Bird's Foot Fern
Digger Pine, Grey Pine
Slender Popcorn Flower
Silene verecunda ssp. platyota
San Francisco Campion
* Festuca confusa and F. pacifica
have been consolidated into Festuca microstachys
Description of Schettler's field
Schettler's work provides a baseline for monitoring
the status of these special status species as the District's management
plan is implemented.
MAPPING OF SANDHILLS PLANTS AT OLYMPIA WATERSHED
The ecological importance of Santa Cruz County's
Sandhills was recognized in the 1970s by Randall Morgan, for whom
the Morgan Preserve at the old Geyer Quarry off Mt. Hermon Road
is named. In a 1983 paper he identified a suite of 83 Sand Specialty
plants, native plant species characteristic of the Sandhills and
indicative of a unique habitat when they occur together (Harvey
& Stanley Associates, Inc., 1983). Five of these are special-status
species that receive legal protection under federal law (Federal
Endangered Species Act of 1973) or state law (California Endangered
Species Act, Native Plant Protection Act of 1977, California Environmental
Quality Act; or ranking by the California Department of Fish and
Game and the California Native Plant Society).
CALIFORNIA RARE PLANT RANK
Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana
Ben Lomond Spineflower
Cupressus (Hesperocyparis) abramsiana
Santa Cruz Cypress
California Endangered, Federal Endangered
Eriogonum nudum var. decurrens
Ben Lomond Wallflower
Rank 1A plants are presumed extinct
Rank 1B plants are the rarest existing plants. They are rare,
threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere.
The number after the decimal is a threat rating, with 1 being
the most threatened category.
The five special-status plants in the table above occur only in
the Sandhills and nowhere else on the planet; all but the Santa
Cruz Cypress occur on the San Lorenzo Valley Water District's
Olympia Wellfield property. Some other Sandhills plants potentially
merit listing as well. In addition, a number of relatively widespread
species occur in an unusual form in the Sandhills.
Morgan's species list was used as the framework
for mapping the Sandhills plants at the Wellfield during spring
and summer 2011. Field work was performed by botanist and landscape
contractor Suzanne Schettler, who has conducted restoration of
Sandhills habitats since 1995. She was assisted in the field by
Ken Moore, who has extensive knowledge of the Wellfield property
from his work eradicating invasive species there; he contributed
GPS expertise to the mapping project.
By definition, this was neither a full botanical
survey of the District's Wellfield property, nor an in-depth ecological
study. It was a focused mapping project intended to fill an existing
data gap and contribute to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District's
Watershed Management Plan. The project was carried out under an
Educational Grant from the District.
Method of Survey
All of the Sandhills plants require full sun,
so the focus of field work was in open areas free of dense trees
or shrubs. A mapped polygon was defined as a patch of vegetation
meeting one or both of the following criteria:
" multiple Sandhills plants clustered together in a given
" high density of one or more Sandhills plants
Defining the "edge" of a polygon was a combination of
art and science because species' occurrences do not begin or end
at a sharp line; rather, they fade in and out gradually. Not all
occurrences of Naked-stemmed Buckwheat were mapped, because this
species is more or less ubiquitous in all open areas on the Santa
Ken Moore recorded a starting point on a hand-held
GPS unit (Dell X51V PDA with a GlobalSat GPS receiver); subsequent
waypoints were GPS'd while walking along the perimeter of the
polygon and back to the starting point. Suzanne Schettler identified
the location of the outline of the edge of the polygon. She also
took written notes about each polygon and listed each Sandhills
plant species present in the polygon.
Charles Baughman converted the GPS information
into maps, using the desktop version of OziExplorer to digitize
some of the waypoints into shapefiles; he did most of the map
work with Global Mapper (http://www.globalmapper.com/ ) to write
the PDFs. Ms. Schettler summarized the field information as several
tables in Word and entered the inventory of species by polygon
into an Excel spreadsheet.
Given that the SLVWD Wellfield at Olympia is a
mined-out sand quarry that was significantly impacted by both
sand removal and the land use activities related to processing
and shipping sand, it is surprisingly rich in Sandhills plants.
Sandhills plants were found at 52 locations (polygons). Half of
the polygons (26) contained ten or more Sandhills plants, and
one polygon (#45) contained 33 Sandhills species. In general,
the areas richest in Sandhills plants were located along the southern
edge of the property where disturbance has been minimal.
The Wellfield contained 56 of the 83 Sandhills
plants (68%) in spring and summer 2011. For comparison, the two
Sandhills areas at the Quail Hollow Ranch County Park contain
30 and 46 respectively; the three preserved areas at Quail Hollow
Quarry contain 51, 59, and 68 Sandhills plant species respectively,
according to Randall Morgan's 1983 report (Harvey & Stanley,
Inc., 1983.) The Olympia Wellfield is therefore the third richest
example of Sandhills habitat anywhere. Unlike the Quail Hollow
Quarry preserves, it offers public access within modest limits.
Several species deserve mention.
The most distinctive shrub of the Sandhills,
Silver-leaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos silvicola) was likely
widespread at the Wellfield before the site was quarried. Today
there are probably fewer than 40 plants present although some
other Sandhills species have aggressively re-colonized the quarry
The flowers of Wooly Dandelion (Malacothrix
floccifera) are normally yellow but are white at most Sandhills
locations; at the Wellfield it occurs in both color forms.
Plants of Naked-stemmed Buckwheat (Eriogonum
nudum var. decurrens) are far larger at Polygon #7 than anywhere
else in the Sandhills.
There were only a few Pussy Paws (Calyptridium
monospermum) present in about 1995 (S. Schettler, personal observation)
but many hundreds sprang up on a hill near a former quarry pit
following removal of invasive Acacias in 2009 and 2010 (Polygons
12, 14, and 15).
Several species of Pine are present at the
Wellfield. There are some large old Coulter Pines (Pinus coulteri)
that must have been planted long ago; Coulter Pines are not
native to the Santa Cruz Mountains (Thomas, 1961). (At probably
about the same time, several Incense Cedars [Calocedrus decurrens]
were planted at the top of the prominent west-facing cutslope
in an apparent early attempt at aesthetic remediation.) More
recently (1970s or 1980s), Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata), Scots
Pines (Pinus sylvestris, a species with short needles), and
possibly more Coulter Pines were planted under the auspices
of the Water District. Monterey and Coulter Pines are difficult
to distinguish from the native Ponderosa Pine until they are
mature enough to have cones and develop distinctive bark. All
three of these Pines have overlapping features of needle color,
needle length, and number of needles per bundle, making the
cones the only reliable diagnostic feature. In the context of
mapping, this blurs the picture of Ponderosa Pine, which is
the signature tree of the Sandhills. There are quite a few immature
Pines on the Wellfield that could be offspring of any of the
longer-needled Pines, and immature Ponderosa Pines may be present
at locations where Ponderosa Pine was not recorded. Knobcone
Pine (Pinus attenuata) is native in the Sandhills but is widespread
elsewhere, so it was not mapped as a Sandhills plant.
This was a good spring overall in the Sandhills
because rainfall during the winter of 2010-2011 was well above
average. Some of the places where invasive plants were pile-burned
may have supported unusually high populations of Sandhills plants
this year as a result of a nutrient pulse from the ash.
The mapping extended to the southern fence line,
an area where there is a concentration of Sandhills plants. Shortly
after mapping was completed, that property line was surveyed and
a new fence was installed north of the old one. Parts of Polygons
44 through 47 and all of Polygon 48 now appear to be off District
It should be noted that Sandhills plants occurred
outside the mapped polygons, although at lower densities. If every
occurrence of Sandhills plants were mapped they would cover two
to three times the area shown on the polygons. Such a larger area
would fill many of the gaps between polygons. It would also be
enlarged around the mapped polygons to extend a moderate distance
outward, comprising a few "super-polygons" that enclose
the specific polygons mapped in 2011. With only minor modifications,
the "super-polygons" correspond to the District's previous
mapping of Sand Parkland Habitat and Sand Parkland (Degraded).
In spite of its land use history, the Olympia
Watershed contains a remarkable example of Sandhills vegetation.
Harvey & Stanley Associates, Inc. 1983. Randall
Morgan's "Appendices to Analysis of the Loss of Sand Parkland
Vegetation at Lone Star Industries' Olympia Quarry, and the Potential
for Reestablishing the Sand Parkland Vegetation and Other Options."
Thomas, J. H. 1961. Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.
WATERSHED HISTORICAL MINING EQUIPMENT INVENTORY
The District has defined a project area for the
Olympia Watershed to inventory and map abandoned mining equipment
and to identify and document pieces with historical value using
After the District acquired 17 acres of the Olympia Watershed
property in 2009, consultants conducted an environmental site
assessment, which recommended removal of all abandoned structures
and mining equipment on the property. The District removed several
old metal sheds at the same time that it engaged in an invasive-species
control project. When dense thickets of the invasive acacia dealbata
trees were cut down and removed, more abandoned mining equipment,
mostly half-buried cable, became visible. Some, but not all of
this equipment has potential historical value.
For a more detailed discussion of the historical value of the
mining equipment, please refer to Part III: Planning and Recommendations
Report, Chapter 2, Olympia Watershed Property, 2.7.1 Review of
existing conditions: Cultural and historical resources.
The map below shows the location of
the historical mining equipment. A copy of the complete
report is available by request at the District office.