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Land Trust Protects More Sandhills Land; Scotts Valley Preserve Will Be 204 Acres
In its ongoing campaign to protect the threatened Sandhills, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County yesterday purchased 15 acres near Mount Hermon Road and Lockhart Gulch Road in Scotts Valley, forever preventing development that would threaten the rare plants and animals that live there. These 15 acres will be added to the Land Trust’s adjacent 189-acre Morgan Sandhills property.
The Sandhills make up an ancient seabed. Sand dollars, seashells, and fossils of extinct sea mammals can be found there. Biologist Peter Raven likened the Sandhills to the Galapagos because of their biological diversity.
The Santa Cruz Sandhills are home to seven species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth, including the Mt Hermon June Beetle, Zayante band-winged grasshopper, Santa Cruz Kangaroo Rat, Ben Lomond spineflower, Santa Cruz wallflower, Silverleaf manzanita and Ben Lomond buckwheat.
“It is a rare habitat, threatened by development that needs protecting today,” said Land Trust Executive Director Terry Corwin.
In its 25-Year Conservation Blueprint, completed in 2011, the Land Trust identified the Sandhills as a priority conservation area due to its rarity. Corwin said the group plans to protect additional Sandhills land through easement or acquisition.
Funding came from a variety of sources, including $239,600 from the State Wildlife Conservation Board, and $150,400 from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Act, Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program. Corwin said the Land Trust contributed $14,000 from an Opportunity Fund, which was raised as part of its campaign to protect 10,000 acres, completed in January 2013.
Additional funding for the project also came through the Living Landscape Initiative Challenge Grant Program of Resources Legacy Fund, which is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.