SEMPERVIRENS FUND ACQUIRES COTONI-COAST RIDGE PROPERTY
Critical 106-acre property north of Davenport connects 17,500-acre wildland complex
On Jan. 17, 2018, Sempervirens Fund announced it had acquired Cotoni-Coast Ridge, a strategically important 106-acre parcel north of the town of Davenport, on the coast of Santa Cruz County.
Situated on the westernmost ridgeline of the Santa Cruz Mountain range above Scott Creek Beach, Cotoni-Coast Ridge ranges in elevation from 400 to 1,000 feet and is an ecologically diverse property consisting primarily of second-growth redwoods, as well as coastal terrace prairie, coastal mixed hardwood, and coastal scrub.
Most importantly, the pie-shaped parcel connects San Vicente Redwoods, the Bureau of Land Management’s Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument, and Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch. In all, these properties total more than 17,500 acres.
“Cotoni-Coast Ridge effectively connects and protects much larger investments in the future,” said Sempervirens Fund Executive Director Sara Barth. “Sempervirens Fund and others have invested heavily to protect such a remarkable 17,500-acre wildland complex.”
The property has no recorded timber harvests, but it appears to have been clearcut 50 to 60 years ago, according to Sempervirens Fund Director of Land Conservation Laura McLendon.
“The entire site burned in the 2009 Lockheed fire, though the fire appears to have mostly affected plants, not trees—and since then, has rejuvenated their health and biodiversity,” McLendon said.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation contributed $660,000 toward the total project cost of $1.285 million. The remainder was funded by individual Sempervirens Fund supporters.
“Sempervirens has diligently pursued this important property, and we are very happy to be able to support this acquisition,” said Dan Winterson, who manages the Foundation’s Bay Area Conservation Portfolio. “Permanently protecting this property will not only directly secure coast redwood forestlands, but also will provide greater connectivity to the San Vicente Redwoods and other protected areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains.”
Cotoni-Coast Ridge supports many native animals and likely provides habitat for such rare coastal terrace prairie species as the Ohlone tiger beetle, American badger, white-tailed kite, and northern harrier. The parcel falls within the nesting range of the endangered marbled murrelet—although it doesn’t include the old-growth redwoods and Douglas fir in which the murrelets tend to nest. The presence of mountain lions on the property has been confirmed—and they’ve been documented by camera just a few hundred yards away in our San Vicente Redwoods. The coast redwood vegetation community on the property could very well support rare species like the San Francisco Duskyfooted woodrat, pileated woodpecker, and Santa Cruz black salamander.
The property is located in the Little Creek watershed and includes the headwaters of Quesería Creek, a tributary to lower Scotts Creek.
Scotts Creek is essential for the endangered Coho and steelhead salmon and is rated 5 of 5 for aquatic biodiversity in the Santa Cruz Mountain Redwoods Conceptual Area Protection Plan.
In August 2015, the owner of Cotoni-Coast Ridge approached Sempervirens Fund about selling the property.
For the next year and a half, Sempervirens Fund staff negotiated a price and arranged the sale. This is a relatively quick timeline compared with similar transactions completed in the area.
The total fair market appraised value of the parcel is $1,550,000. But thanks to the generosity of the land owner, Sempervirens Fund secured an exclusive option to purchase the property for $1,225,000—which is 79 percent of the appraised price.
Now that Sempervirens Fund has completed The Campaign to Preserve Cotoni-Coast Ridge—and purchased the parcel— it will either manage it as a stand-alone property or together with the adjoining San Vicente Redwoods.
Director of Land Conservation Laura McLendon said she doesn’t anticipate any major stewardship issues.
“We’ll control for erosion along the old haul roads and remove some invasive species as part of our ongoing management,” said McLendon. “Fortunately, there aren’t any man-made structures we’ll need to remove. However, our stewardship plan will address trespassing.”
About Sempervirens Fund:
Sempervirens Fund’s mission is to protect and permanently preserve redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests, wildlife habitat, watersheds, and other important natural and scenic features of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, and to encourage public appreciation and enjoyment of this environment. Visit Sempervirens.org and follow @SempervirensFnd.
About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation:
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area. Visit Moore.org and follow @MooreFound.