Santa Clara River Watershed
For thousands of years, the inhabitants of the
watershed have relied on an ecologically healthy
ecosystem to sustain their existence and culture. Flowing 86 miles
from the headwaters of the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean
through a 1,600 square mile watershed, the
ís last naturally flowing major river system that is not heavily
damned or channelized. It
is home to as many as 17 species listed as threatened or endangered by
state and federal governments, and includes critical habitat for the
Southern California Steelhead, California red-legged frog, arroyo
toad, and least Bellís vireo.
ís rich biodiversity is severely threatened by anthropogenic impacts
to its habitat, flow regimes, water quality, energy sources, and
biotic community health. The
and its watershed is also home to Chumash Native American Sacred and
Cultural Sites, that VCK strives to protect. The
and its tributaries were of vital importance to Native Americans,
particularly the Chumash, who located villages along their banks.
The River and its tributaries provided them with sources of
food, ceremony, cultural materials for baskets, jewelry, and clothing.
Chumash burials have been unearthed along the
, and unlawful dredging and filling activity in its floodplains and
river bed, and channelization projects, alter and destroy sacred sites
and burial sites, sometimes without the knowledge of Chumash and
efforts to protect, restore, and preserve the water quality,
ecological integrity, and natural cultural resources of the Santa
Clara River start with our volunteer based watershed monitoring
program that enables VCK to pinpoint pollution and seek solutions to
abate it at its source.