Our Approach

Healthy Watersheds, Thriving Communities

At the Coastal Watershed Council (CWC), we believe that improving watersheds and bettering communities are not separate conversations. The two are directly linked. That’s why CWC is working to transform the lower San Lorenzo River into a community destination by inspiring people like you to explore, enhance and protect this critical cultural and natural resource. Because when your river thrives, your community thrives.

Listening & Learning

Through engaging people in the places where they live, work and play along the lower San Lorenzo River, through peer-to-peer connections, CWC begins its work by meeting people where they are and documenting their needs, ideas and desires for their river and community.


CWC puts this information into practice by creating relevant, positive experiences at the river that transform people’s perceptions and relationship with the lower San Lorenzo River.


As people become more excited and knowledgeable about their river, CWC provides a variety of ways to get involved. Through water quality monitoring, research and best practices, CWC ensures that the individual actions we inspire are the most effective in generating positive changes for a cleaner, healthier river and safer, more accessible riverside parks.


CWC trains individuals, organizations and businesses how they can take action, on their own, to benefit the lower San Lorenzo River.


CWC acknowledges those who lead river events, advocacy and action as river champions.

By re-building multi-generational, personal connections to the river, CWC is shifting the way people interact with this critical natural resource in their daily lives. By engaging the broader community, CWC achieves environmental goals while equipping the Santa Cruz community with the knowledge, tools and experience to tackle other challenging problems. That community capacity building serves Santa Cruz far beyond the water quality and natural environment benefits. The result is not just a cleaner, healthier San Lorenzo River, but a thriving community where neighbors and families feel safe and welcome in nature and empowered to make a difference for their communities. Learn more about CWC’s approach through our Theory for Change. Click below to dive into one of CWC’s focus areas: