Streams and Wetlands

The Preserve contains a number of perennial streams lined with willow and cottonwood-dominated riparian forests, as well as wetlands, lakes, and old cattle stockponds which serve as surrogate vernal pool habitats. Streams and wetlands are a vital part of any landscape. Rivers deliver vitality and nourish species that live in and near them, which in turn contribute to complex food webs. By definition, wetlands are lands that are partially or seasonally submerged in water. Wetlands appear in many forms around the Preserve; natural drainage areas, river beds, floodplains, and ponds are all different manifestations of wetlands found here. On the Santa Lucia Preserve, riparian zones and wetlands serve as wildlife corridors for native species, provide flood, erosion, and temperature regulation, supply habitat to an astounding variety of plants and animals, and provide crucial support to surrounding ecosystems.

Most creeks on the Preserve are tributaries of the Carmel River, which originates in the Ventana Wilderness and runs 36 miles to the Pacific. For over a decade, the Conservancy has been monitoring creek flows to ensure water infrastructure is not impacting stream flows.  We also work closely with neighboring property owners and natural resource agencies to address fish barriers such as dams and some bridges, as well as erosion issues that could threaten The Preserve’s creeks and fish populations.

Photo: Chris Wilson


The Conservancy uses cutting-edge scientific methods, like eDNA, to monitor our wildlife… read more.

Photo: Bruce Dormody

Steelhead Trout

One of the most charismatic species on The Preserve lives in its streams… read more.

Photo: ©2018 William Guion

Cattle Grazing Program

Grazing provides many conservation benefits to the land, including improving habitat for our wildlife… read more.

Left: California red-legged frog (Photo: Christy Wyckoff); Tricolor blackbird habitat (Photo: Christy Wyckoff); Lower Garzas Creek (Photo: Santa Lucia Preserve)

A Thriving Conservation Community

The Preserve is a model of private lands conservation. Great effort from landowners, the Conservancy, and The Preserve to maintain the natural beauty and wild character of this place enables a diverse community of plants and animals to flourish here . Learn about life on the Santa Lucia Preserve.