SALINAS, Calif. - 167 acres of rare land was signed over to the Elkhorn slough foundation today. This has been in the works for nearly a decade and a ceremony was held today to celebrate.
This actually started years back, after several habitats were damaged from the Prunedale restoration project on highway 101.To make up for this loss, the Elkhorn highlands reserve and an endowment
were transferred to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation in order to protect and preserve the land.
Lots of excitement at the Elkhorn slough research reserve today as 167 acres of land were signed over from Caltrans to the Elkhorn slough foundation.
“It’s exhilarating”, “it’s a good day for conservation”, these are the words of some of the people involved in what took nearly a decade to accomplish.
Richard Rosales with Caltrans describes why this process took so much time.
Richard Rosales, Deputy director of project management Caltrans–district 5
“One of the issues was transferring property to a non-profit, we could do
that, but in order for the non-profit to manage the property they needed
some type of funding.
This funding was made possible thanks to a new bill that was passed, allowing the state to partner with a non-profit to transfer an endowment.
But it wasn't just about getting funding... It was also about finding the right pieces of land.
This land is extremely special. Not only is it large at nearly 167 acres… but it also encompasses about 6 acres of seasonal freshwater wetlands, a home for native plant species, and a habitat for the endangered California tiger salamander.”
Executive director of the Elkhorn slough foundation, Mark Silberstein says, “yea this project we’ve already cleared about 800 ton of old junk and concrete and materials from the property.”
But that's not all.
“We’ve begun the work already, we’ve started animal surveys, wetland
delineation, starting a eucalyptus removal project” says, Kevin Contreras - Land acquisitions manager.
And Kevin Contreras says there is still a long way to go. “A lot of this work will be done in the next 5 years, and then after that it will just be ongoing management and maintenance.”
In addition to all of this, an estimated 20 million gallons of water will be saved per year by the retirement of groundwater pumping on the land. And to protect the land, they will be limiting public access only to special tours.