Watsonville has one of the largest freshwater wetlands left along the Central Coast. Wetlands like these support an incredible diversity of wildlife, including migratory birds that could not complete their journeys without having this habitat as a rest stop and place to re-fuel migrations of 6,000 miles. Wetlands also have an impact on humans. The water and vegetation in riparian habitats cool our town, help with air quality and provide an incredible opportunity for recreation.
The City has been restoring habitat and adding trails along the wetlands for about 10 years. The work along the stretch of the slough between Ohlone Parkway and Highway 1 is the final phase of a 25-acre wetlands restoration project. The newly dug channel was widened from about 20 feet to 100 feet. The restored slough will hold more water, providing some measure of flood protection. The bare ground will be replanted with native vegetation to provide wildlife habitat. Additionally, trails will be built around this area to connect to the existing 7 miles already surrounding the sloughs.
The $562,000 project is jointly funded by the City, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, Caltrans and the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.
Projects like these are bringing back valuable wetland ecosystems and the wildlife they support, such as the 225 species of birds depend on our sloughs. One such bird is the Common Cuckoo, which drew national and international visitors to our local wetlands.