Coastal Prairie and Wet Meadows

Most of grasslands in the interior of the Santa Lucia Preserve are considered Coastal prairies. As their name suggests, Coastal prairies occur along the Pacific coast from San Luis Obispo California to southern Oregon. This geography benefits from moderate to high rainfall and a Mediterranean climate which enjoys dense summer fog which brings needed moisture during the dry months. These conditions result in longer and wetter growing seasons with a higher overall native cover when compared with interior continental grasslands. The coastal grasslands within the Preserve are characterized by the presence of a California oatgrass (Danthonia californica) grasslands that includes a mix of other native grass species like blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus), California melic grass (Melica californica), and purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra).

Wet meadows are distinct from grasslands and can occur within all vegetation types where water is present at the surface or near it during the growing season. On the Santa Lucia Preserve, wet meadows occur in our grasslands. The most noticeable difference between wet meadows and grasslands is the presence of plants typical of wetlands like rushes, juncos and willows intermingled with the grasses and forbs.

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