The San Lorenzo River is vital to Santa Cruz County as a key drinking water supply, as critical fish and wildlife habitat, and as a place of recreation where residents and tourists can enjoy nature. Since the City of Santa Cruz’s last Urban River Committee meeting in December 2009, however, there has been little opportunity for the community to connect to the San Lorenzo River and shape its future. The Coastal Watershed Council formed the San Lorenzo River Alliance in December 2013 to lead a transformation of the San Lorenzo River.
In other communities across California and the nation, rivers have become a driver of economic activity, a destination for tourism and recreation, and a beautiful public space the community can feel proud of and connect with nature in. That is also possible in our community.
The San Lorenzo River Alliance is a Santa Cruz County-wide coalition focused on revitalizing the health of the San Lorenzo River and transforming this critical natural resource into a safe and welcoming community destination. Under the leadership of the Coastal Watershed Council, the San Lorenzo River Alliance (SLRA) objectives are centered on water quality improvement, habitat restoration, public safety, community engagement and recreational enhancement. The vision for the SLRA is to create a thriving Santa Cruz riverfront, through an engaged coalition of governmental agencies, local businesses, nonprofits and stakeholders who are inspired to restore the river, renew community pride and support sustainable economic development surrounding this important waterway.
The SLRA will be led by a River Oversight Committee (ROC). The following organizations are key partners with a leadership role on the ROC:
- City of Santa Cruz
- County of Santa Cruz
- Museum of Natural History
- Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County
- San Lorenzo Valley Women’s Club
- Arts Council Santa Cruz County
- Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce
Working groups will be formed under the ROC to focus on the following content areas: flood protection, water quality, community engagement, recreational access and transportation, public safety, habitat, water supply and economic development. The Coastal Watershed Council has begun leading the water quality and recreational access efforts. Other ROC partners and community organizations will lead appropriate working groups as determined by the ROC. While initial phases of the SLRA will focus on the lower river, the ROC includes leadership from outside of the city, honoring a true holistic watershed approach.