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Large Woody Material (Logjam Program)

In recent years, fisheries scientists have determined that log jams and large woody material in stream channels are critical for maintaining good aquatic habitat for salmon, steelhead and other aquatic species. Within Santa Cruz County , steelhead are listed as threatened and coho salmon are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. A lack of large woody material in streams has been identified as one of the primary limiting factors for steelhead and coho salmon in Santa Cruz County . Large woody material also benefits red-legged frogs (federal endangered species) and western pond turtle (state species of special concern).

In March 2009, the County of Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors approved a new policy for the management of large woody material in Santa Cruz County streams. The Board of Supervisors acknowledges that large woody material accumulates in county streams as a result of natural processes and conditions. The new policy recognizes the value of allowing large woody material to remain in these streams to the greatest extent possible and its importance for sorting sediment, protecting steam banks and channel stability, providing pools and refuges, and generally benefiting stream habitat, when such material does not threaten life, public infrastructure, public safety, or aquatic habitat.

Large woody material (LWM) is defined as stumps, rootwads and logs having an average diameter greater than 6 inches and a length greater than 10 feet.

The County of Santa Cruz Large Woody Material Management Program (LWMMP) responds to requests of streamside property owners and County drainage crews to evaluate, and, if necessary, modify accumulations of large woody material in county streams. To be considered for modification, large woody material must pose a clear and immediate threat to public safety, public infrastructure or aquatic habitat.

The public can call Public Works - Drainage Division at 477-3921 to request an evaluation of large woody material on their property.

Policy for Management of Large Woody Material In Santa Cruz County Streams

Approved by Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, March 3, 2009

Large woody material accumulates in county streams as a result of natural processes and conditions. The Board of Supervisors recognizes the value of allowing large woody material to remain in these streams to the greatest extent possible and its importance for sorting sediment, protecting steam banks and channel stability, providing pools and refuges, and generally benefiting stream habitat, when such material does not threaten life, public infrastructure, public safety, or aquatic habitat. Large woody material (LWM) is defined as stumps, rootwads and logs having an average diameter greater than 6 inches and a length greater than 10 feet.

County staff will not remove, cut-up or otherwise modify accumulations of large woody material in county streams that support salmonids or other special status species unless it is determined that such accumulations pose a clear and immediate threat to public safety, public infrastructure or aquatic habitat; however, such accumulations may be removed, cut-up or otherwise modified under a direction or order issued by a state or federal agency.

Any modification or removal of LWM shall be carried out only as directed by a state or federal agency or by the Water Resources Division Director following consultation with a geomorphologist, fishery biologist, Department of Fish and Game, and/or NOAA Fisheries Service.

The FishNet 4C Guidelines for Woody Debris removal should be followed.

  • Any modification of large woody material by a private property owner or other member of the public may require the review and approval of the Department of Fish and Game.
  • County Environmental Health Water Resources staff shall disseminate information to the public regarding the value of large woody material for habitat and natural stream function and the terms of the county policy.
  • Nothing in this policy shall limit the County's existing authority and procedure to act under emergency conditions where there is a need to act to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of life, health, property or essential public services. Any modification of large woody material under emergency conditions shall be reported to the Water Resources Division Director and the regulatory agencies that require notification.
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