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Butano Creek Watershed

Protecting the Life Force of the Forest

Butano State Park’s namesake creek, Butano Creek, flows from its headwaters near Butano Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains for 15 miles where it meets up with Pescadero Creek and finally the Pacific Ocean. The life force of the forest, Butano Creek provides water for plants and wildlife as well as historic spawning ground for endangered Coho salmon and steelhead trout. It also carries most of the runoff from the Santa Cruz Mountains out to sea which has been heavily impacted by humans causing blockages and flooding along its course. It’s watershed, the area that drains into the creek, is critical to protect and keep clean—free of pollutants and major erosions—so the creek can continue to provide water and habitat through miles of forest. After decades of work helping to preserve the forests now in Butano State Park, Sempervirens Fund continues to improve the health of the forest by protecting and restoring land in the Butano Creek watershed.

Sempervirens Fund has preserved more than 1,500 acres of land in the Butano Creek Watershed including high priority redwood forests and tributaries to Butano and Pescadero Creeks.

Protecting the Watershed to Protect the Forest

Since Sempervirens Fund helped establish Butano State Park from the 1920’s through 1950’s, it has continued to improve the health of the forest by protecting land in the watershed of Butano Creek—the forest’s life force. The creek provides water for the forest’s plants and wildlife, habitat for wildlife that live in the water and on the shore, and a corridor helping to guide wildlife from habitat to habitat such as the endangered marbled murrelet and Coho salmon.

Butano Creek Watershed

Here are some of the most recent lands Sempervirens Fund supporters have preserved forever in the Butano Creek Watershed:

an image of a trail in the redwoods

Butano Creek

The Butano Creek property is 40-acres of redwoods, Douglas fir, creek, and ridges located in Butano Canyon on the North Fork of Butano Creek, about a mile and a half north of Butano State Park. Saved from sale on the open market in 2019, it’s stretch of creek provides potential sheltering habitat for threatened California red-legged frogs and protects water quality for endangered Coho salmon and steelhead trout that live downstream. The canyon provides important nesting habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet.

Camp Butano Creek

The old-growth trees, water resources, and critical habitat for the endangered central coast steelhead and marbled murrelet that can be found in the Girl Scout’s 142-acre Camp Butano Creek, next to Butano State Park, were protected by Sempervirens Fund in 2012. The conservation easement permanently protects the important natural resources on the property and provided much needed income to the Girl Scouts to keep the camp operating—connecting the next generation with the redwoods.

Butano State Park by iStock
Gazos Creek redwood forest, near the San Mateo-Santa Cruz County line, on March 15, 2019. (Photo: Big Creek Lumber / Peninsula Open Space Trust)

Gazos Creek Redwoods

Gazos Creek Redwoods is 320-acres of large, second-growth forest that includes scattered old-growth trees right next to Butano State Park. Its habitat is critical for the conservation of the endangered marbled murrelet. It sits within Butano Creek’s neighboring Gazos Creek Watershed which is largely undeveloped and provides habitat for anadromous fish like Coho and steelhead.

You can read more about Gazos Creek Redwoods here.

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