Winged Restoration Project to expand monarch habitat

by Suzanne GillCommunications and Outreach Coordinator While the monarch butterfly is among the most beloved wildlife species in the U.S., populations of both the Eastern and Western monarch have declined precipitously since the late 1990s. By 2019, the Western monarch population was estimated to have plummeted to just two percent of the total recorded 22 years earlier, in 1997. The […]

Mule Deer rutting season

October 24, 2023 by Emma Levy, Conservation Ecologist Mule deer find a very welcoming environment on the Santa Lucia Preserve. Discriminating foragers, they seek the most nutritious parts of a variety of plants (including berries and acorns), rather than large quantities of low-quality grasses and leaves. The Preserve’s large variety of vegetation in different habitat areas, combined with its limited human […]

Biodiversity Journey on the Preserve

The Santa Lucia Preserve is a microcosm of the Central Coast Bioregion, located 5 miles inland from Monterey Bay and encompassing 20,000 acres of the northern Santa Lucia Range. The habitat diversity, its varying topography and natural features – from perennial streams to mountainous terrains – give rise to 12 different habitats. This StoryMap will take you on a journey through 8 of The Preserve’s dominant habitats.

CSUMB Undergraduate Researcher Studies Valley Oak Regeneration on The Preserve

CSUMB Undergraduate Researcher Mario Coronado Cartmell establishes study plots on The Preserve.  February 7, 2023 By Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator Across California, valley oaks (Quercus lobata) are struggling to establish future generations. Agriculture and urban development have drastically reduced valley oak woodland coverage across the state and especially in the Central Valley, where nearly 90 percent of this [...]

From Redwoods to Mesquite, Dr. Rodrigo Sierra Corona Returns to the Desert

Dr. Rodrigo Sierra Corona with cattle on The Preserve. Photo by Serena Lasko.  Dear residents, members, and colleagues, During the last five years, we built a top-of-the-line Ecological Management Department, which redefined the Conservancy’s identity and solidified our value in the conservation community. This was the result of a collective effort, countless long days in the field and the office, [...]

SLC Completes Successful Prescribed Burn in Dairy Field

Conservancy and CSD staff set grasslands in the Dairy Field Burn unit ablaze on November 6th, 2022. Photo by Alix Soliman. November 7, 2022 By Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator On Sunday, November 6, the Santa Lucia Conservancy conducted a successful prescribed burn in Carmel Valley totaling approximately 19 acres with cooperation from the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association, [...]

Improving Habitat for the Endangered Smith’s Blue Butterfly

A male Smith's Blue Butterfly perched on coast buckwheat. Photo courtesy of Diane Kodama / USFWS. October 5, 2022 By Dr. Sabine Cudney, Postdoctoral Fellow If you see Conservancy staff staring at the ground with binoculars on Peñon Peak, it’s not because we don’t know where the birds are, but because we are trying to identify the Smith’s Blue Butterfly [...]

It’s Tarantula Mating Season in California

A tarantula looking for love on a foggy morning at the top of Cantera Run. Photo by Jackson Brooke. September 22, 2022 By Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator Humans tend to find fuzzy creatures “cute.” Why, then, do tarantulas have such a bad reputation? A common belief is that arachnophobia is a lingering survival instinct, developed early in human [...]

What to Do if You Find Injured Wildlife on The Preserve

A Coyote howls in the San Francisquito Flats. Photo by Abby Cole. August 24, 2022 By Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator The Preserve is located at the wildland-urban interface (WUI), a place where human communities intersect with a rugged, natural landscape home to an abundance of wildlife. Living in such an environment means that folks encounter wild animals more [...]

The Conservancy Uses eDNA to Find Threatened Amphibians

A mass of California Red-legged Frog eggs rests at the surface of a pond on The Preserve. Photo by Alix Soliman.  May 11, 2022 By Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator A major development in fish and wildlife monitoring, Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a scientific method that can tell us whether a species is present in a given area by [...]

What is Conservation Grazing and How Can it Benefit Coastal Prairies?

The contrast between a just-grazed pasture and the first day of grazing in a new, adjacent pasture on San Clemente. Photo by Andrew Evans.   April 20, 2022 By Claudio Núñez, Conservation Grazing Manager, and Andrew Evans, Conservation Grazing Associate In this ecological moment, animal husbandry is a controversial topic. Industrial livestock production has led to much of the ecological degradation [...]

California Natives to Cultivate in Your Garden by Habitat Type

Redwood Sorrel is an herbaceous perennial plant that provides excellent ground cover in moist, shady environments. Photo by Serena Lasko. April 13, 2022 By Evany Wang and Sophie Heny, Seasonal Restoration Crew Members Waving grasslands decorated with strings of blazing wildflowers, oaks hung thick with moss, cattle marching through vivid green grass—The Santa Lucia Preserve is an inspiring place where [...]

March 2022 Newsletter

Our conservation grazing herd browses under the oaks at San Clemente. Photo by Andrew Evans. March 31, 2022 By Jamison Watts, Executive Director A visionary model, the Santa Lucia Preserve blends sustainable development into a permanently protected natural landscape. The founders’ vision led to the science and nature-based design of The Preserve with a dedicated conservation partner at its core—the [...]

How to Identify 7 Common Raptors in the Santa Lucia Mountains

Ventana Wildlife Society Biologist Mike Stake and Conservation Ecologist Dr. Brian Woodward conduct a Raptor survey on The Preserve. Photo by Alix Soliman.  March 25, 2022 By Alix Soliman, Communications & Outreach Coordinator Soaring overhead on rising thermals, dive-bombing rodents in the rolling grasslands with their piercing screeches echoing off of the hills – birds of prey are a striking [...]

How Conservation Flows Downstream in the Carmel River Watershed

The Coastline at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Photo by Alix Soliman. March 21, 2022 By Andrew Evans, Conservation Grazing Associate From Big Sur to Carmel Beach to Asilomar and beyond, the draw of the Central Coast is centered on its pristine landscapes, resilient habitats, abundant fisheries, and welcoming coastal towns. However, as global watersheds are facing the impacts of [...]

Before & After: Poison Hemlock Annihilation in 4 Photos

Polo Field down towards Moore’s Lake overtaken by poison hemlock before treatment in 2020. Photo by Jackson Brooke.  October 5, 2021 By Jackson Brooke, Restoration Technician As the Restoration Manager at Santa Lucia Conservancy, my department’s goal is to remove invasive species from 500 acres of grassland on the Santa Lucia Preserve each year. Grasslands are essential to a tremendous [...]

Conservancy News | December 2020

The Conservancy is pleased to share its fourth and final newsletter of 2020! In this issue, we feature updates about fuel management on The Preserve, highlights from our stewardship programs, and a joint letter from our new Executive Director, Jamison Watts, and our Deputy Director, Christy Wyckoff. Click here to read the full newsletter!

Roads of The Preserve: More than Meets the Eye

Driving on The Preserve is part of the experience of conservation living, whether you get behind the wheel for the joy of the drive or simply to travel from one place to the next. This paved element of the landscape was quite literally designed from the ground up with roads that enhance the cadence of the community and encourage a [...]

Demystifying Fuel Management on The Santa Lucia Preserve

No doubt, there is a learning curve to the rural lifestyle of The Preserve. This conservation experiment has many mechanisms built in to foster deeper appreciation and thoughtful care of the land. Fuel Management is one of the more bewildering topics, for many reasons. First, no one would deny that wildfire is scary; it is powerful and destructive, but with [...]

The Magic of the Mesa: A Conservation Story of Cattle and Coyote Brush

The Carmel Valley holds a special place in my heart. With family ties in the Monterey Peninsula, I visited the area frequently as a child and for years heard whispers of the magic on The Santa Lucia Preserve. In February 2020, I joined the Conservancy’s second annual seasonal field crew and at last had the privilege to visit The Preserve. [...]