WRC Blog

A River in the Redwoods of the Big Sur Coast

Jan 18th, 2017  |  Written by Western Rivers Conservancy

A River in the Redwoods of the Big Sur Coast
On California’s Big Sur coast, WRC recently launched an exciting project to conserve a mile of the Little Sur River, pictured here where it flows into the Pacific. Photo by Doug Steakley.

Amidst the world’s southernmost naturally occurring redwoods, and within earshot of the waves of the Big Sur coastline, Western Rivers Conservancy has taken crucial first steps to conserve a 1,200-acre ranch along the Little Sur River.

This month, we signed an agreement to purchase the Adler Ranch, an important property at the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, 40 miles south of Monterey. Our efforts will conserve roughly a mile of the Little Sur River, which flows from the Ventana Wilderness in the Santa Lucia Mountains, through a deep, redwood-shaded gulch and into the Pacific, near Andrew Molera State Park.

This is an exciting project on multiple fronts. The Little Sur River flows through an area that provides habitat for imperiled animals like northern spotted owl and California condor, as well as a wealth of other wildlife. The river is considered the Central Coast’s most important spawning stream for threatened south-central coast steelhead, which once returned to this stretch of the California coast by the tens of thousands. Today, it is likely that fewer than 100 fish return to the Little Sur River each year, making our efforts to conserve the stream vitally important.

Conservation of the Adler Ranch will preserve some of the southernmost stands of old-growth redwoods on earth, trees that have genetically adapted to the warm, dry climate of Big Sur. These trees could be extremely important for future efforts to assist redwood survival in a warming climate, making their conservation essential.

WRC’s purchase of the ranch will link protected public lands along the coast to the main body of the Los Padres National Forest, helping to ensure permanent habitat connectivity between the ocean and the crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains. It will also allow for the creation of new trails between the ocean and the inland reaches of Los Padres National Forest, a significant enhancement for the many hikers who visit Big Sur from around the world.