Watershed Conservation

Our work encompasses the entire watershed – from the ridgetop to the valley bottom.

From flowing mountain streams to vital floodplains and the adjacent lands along the way, we’re dedicated to conserving and restoring Central Coast biodiversity and the aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats on which it depends.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed encompasses the entire land area that drains into the same waterway. Mountain ridgelines channel rainfall and snowmelt into streams, creeks, and rivers, eventually flowing out into bays, estuaries, and oceans.

Watersheds are the lifeblood of our planet, sustaining every ecosystem, community, and species that relies on fresh water to survive. Protecting these critical landscapes is vital to safeguarding our future.

Our Areas of Expertise

Enhancing native Central Coast biodiversity from the mountains to the sea is at the heart of our work. Our scientifically-backed projects focus on several key areas: enhancing stream flows for threatened aquatic species, removing barriers to facilitate fish passage, monitoring and improving water quality and quantity, restoring water on degraded landscapes, and improving habitat complexity and connectivity across aquatic, riparian, and upland ecosystems.

Our Holistic Approach

Watershed conservation requires a multi-pronged approach. We recognize that humans are an integral part of this intricate web of life, and we work at the nexus of man and nature to develop sustainable land and water management solutions. Our strategy includes rigorous scientific research paired with strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement to maximize our impact.

Our Inspiration

Over 95% of freshwater ecosystems have been lost, making them the most endangered ecosystem in California. Steelhead trout, a locally threatened species, symbolizes our dedication to conserving and restoring aquatic habitats. Our work largely focuses on the restoration of this iconic species; when steelhead thrive, so do many other native fish, wildlife, and plant communities.

Current Watershed Projects

We are engaging community stakeholders and local residents in a united effort to restore the SLO Creek watershed for the continued resilience of native aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

We are answering two critical questions: how much fresh water do native steelhead trout need to survive in San Luis Obispo County creeks and rivers, and how much is currently flowing?

We are leading an innovative water storage project to balance Escuela Ranch’s water needs with Pennington Creek’s sensitive aquatic ecosystem.

We are leading efforts to lower a stream gage on Arroyo Grande Creek, which is currently obstructing steelhead fish migration.

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