See What's Happening at the Watsonville Wetlands Watch | March 2021
New Educational Mural at Pajaro Valley High School Thanks to Community Partnerships

Photo: Part of the new learning mural, which can be seen in full along with the new campus trees outside the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center.

Thanks to the support of the  Repass-Rodgers Family Foundation we have been working with our partners at Pajaro Valley Arts to develop community art projects that inspire stewardship and education for our community forest and watershed restoration efforts in Watsonville. The fruit of these efforts has resulted in a beautiful teaching mural recently completed on the Pajaro Valley High School campus by local artist Erika Rosendale.
The mural sits next to the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center and will welcome students and guests to the campus near the top entrance to the school. Its themes around wetland wildlife and habitats and the integration of healthy wetlands, watersheds, and community forests in Watsonville will be used to help educate students and community members alike about wetlands. Projects like these help to reach our community in deep and creative ways that we believe offer an important connection and new pathway to the important work of environmental stewardship.
As Erika puts it: "
The Walkway Mural is directly inspired by the native wildlife of the wetlands, exhibiting various species being pointed to by a compass in the center. No matter which way you look all directions lead back to nature. As the human species we need to focus our attention back to our source of Mother Earth".

Upper Struve Slough Benefits from Climate Corps Leadership Institute's Restoration Work

Photo: CCLI students and Watsonville Wetlands Watch staff enjoy a planting day above Struve Slough.
On February 8th, our Climate Corps Leadership Institute student interns joined Wetlands Watch staff to restore the habitats of Upper Struve Slough. Together, they planted over 600 young plants grown in our native plant nursery this fall and winter,
bringing the total to 1,500 native plants planted on this site this rainy season.  We’re also very appreciative of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust stewardship team for joining us for planting and stewardship work. This work is a part of a multi-year effort to conduct watershed restoration along the Upper Struve Slough within the City’s trail network. This work will replace several acres of non-native and invasive plants with diverse native habitat, essential to the over 270 resident and migratory bird species that rely on the Watsonville wetlands and the impressive biodiversity found within wetlands that surround the Watsonville trail network.  

This work is funded by a grant to the City of Watsonville and Watsonville Wetlands Watch from California’s Habitat Conservation Fund. Designs for future wetland restoration and upstream stormwater treatment projects are currently underway with funding from the Regional Water Management Foundation at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and the California Department of Water Resources. 

Given the conditions of the past year, the City’s trails have seen a significant increase in daily use. In addition to aiding in the long term restoration process, projects like these are providing immediate benefits to the open space and recreational areas through beautification and renewal. Our CCLI interns will spend the rest of the school year working on various restoration projects and participating in community science and climate action programs, taking on a greater leadership role as they learn about Watsonville’s slough system’s birds, water quality, and aquatic invertebrates. 

Join us for a Virtual Speaker Series: Condor Comeback!
Tuesday, March 9, 6:00-7:30pm

Upcoming Event: Digital Speaker Series: Condor Comeback! Tuesday, March 9, 6:00-7:30pm 

Join us for a special free zoom presentation with Joe Burnett, Condor Biologist and Coordinator of Ventana Wildlife Society’s California Condor Restoration Program. Joe has been releasing and monitoring condors for the last 25 years on the Central Coast and has gained an intimate knowledge of this highly endangered bird. Joe will provide an update on ongoing recovery efforts in central California, including the current status of the wild population after the recent wildfire in Big Sur. This is a free event, register here to get your zoom link!

In case you missed it! On February 9th, we hosted local authors to learn the interesting history of Humble (now Exxon) Oil Company’s attempt to build a deepwater rig off the Monterey Peninsula. If you’d like to hear the talk, or want to see it again, it’s now up on our YouTube page! See a sneak peak of the talk below:

World Wetlands Day 2021 A Success!

Photo: A family hangs wishes for Watsonville on the 2021 Wishing Tree.

This year’s World Wetlands Day Celebration provided weeklong socially distanced fun for families and visitors on the wetland trails. Over 150 families and community members came out to walk the trails with scavenger hunt packets and came away with more slough facts and prizes! After writing a wetland and community wish on a wood cookie, participants hung it from a  wishing tree located in Watsonville’s downtown Plaza. Many thanks to all those who celebrated World Wetlands Day and to our partners at the City of Watsonville who helped plan this event. Want to see our community’s wetland wishes? Check them out at the Plaza this and next week, and grab your own cookie to write your wish and hang up!

Nature Corner: Muskrats Balance Wetland Ecosystems
Photo: Muskrats keep wetland vegetation growth in check by eating around the edges of the sloughs.

Muskrats are a native semi-aquatic rodent that plays an important role in our wetlands. These quiet, camouflaged denizens of our sloughs tend to stay emergent vegetation at the water's edge or swim along the edges of the water while they look for food and avoid predators such as bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raptors, and owls. Muskrats serve a unique role in our wetlands as managers of the marshes: providing population control by eating wetland plants including cattails, tule, and smartweed. Muskrats also make sure they have easy access to their food and good escape from predators by building their dens in a packed dome of vegetation on the bank of the sloughs with an underwater entrance. By controlling the marsh plants that grow at the water's edge, muskrats help determine the amount of open space at the edge of wetlands where waterfowl such as grebes and coots make their nests and birds such as herons and egrets hunt for prey. As omnivores, muskrats also help control populations of invasive crayfish and bullfrogs. A healthy muskrat population means a healthy wetland!
Featured Photo

This month's featured photo is of a belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) above the last mile of Watsonville Slough, where the sloughs reach the Pajaro River and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Fun Fact: The oldest identified fossils of belted kingfishers are around 600,000 years old!

Want your wetland photo featured in our newsletter? Send it to by March 11th!

Watsonville Wetlands Watch advocates for wetland issues, educates elementary, middle, and high school students, restores degraded habitats, preserves what remains whole, and teaches appreciation for the unique beauty and life of the Pajaro Valley wetlands. In cooperation with numerous other agencies, we support studies of and planning for these sites.

Watsonville Wetlands Watch is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, federal tax i.d. #77-0519882.
Copyright © *2020 Watsonville Wetlands Watch, All rights reserved.

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Freedom, CA 95019

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