Santa Clara River Valley Looms Large
in Future Planning by The Nature Conservancy
At its June 2001 meeting, FSCR's Board of Directors were given an overview by representatives of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of their preliminary land preservation strategy within the Santa Clara River valley. Wendy Millet and E.J. Remson of TNC presented maps which showed ambitious plans for acquisition of several floodplain properties and river terrace lands as well as large segments of coastal sage scrub and other habitats south of the river. TNC already owns and manages a 220-acre property formerly owned by Allen Camp on the river's north bank just upstream of the Highway 101 bridge.
TNCs report on the river states that riparian and alluvial scrub of the fans and floodplains and native fish are the key systems driving their conservation strategies, and emphasized the importance of the Santa Clara as the last river of its size remaining in southern California that has been minimally channelized and constrained. The river still supports over 4,000 acres of riparian habitat and 1,300 acres of alluvial scrub. Riparian vegetation in southern California, although less than 5 % of its pre-settlement extent, still provides critical habitat for numerous sensitive species including the federally endangered least Bell's vireo and southwestern willow flycatcher. The unarmored threespine stickleback, federally listed as endangered, is considered of primary importance since it is found only in four sites along the Santa Clara River. The southern steelhead, also a federally listed species, once had annual runs of thousands in the river and is currently the subject of a recovery planning process being directed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Other native fishes in the river include the Santa Ana sucker, arroyo chub, and Pacific lamprey.