The Santa Cruz Mountains have been drenched with 40 inches of rain in some locations since the beginning of the year. One species that depends on precipitation is the California newt (Taricha torosa), which migrates from sheltered upland areas to ponds and lakes to mate and lay eggs in bodies of water. Within our region, thousands of newts migrate from the upland areas of Sierra Azul and St. Joseph’s Hill open space preserves to Lexington Reservoir and Los Gatos Creek.
Midpen has been working with Santa Clara County, which owns Alma Bridge Road that parallels Lexington reservoir on the north and east sides, and several other neighboring entities to provide wildlife passage for newts across the paved roadway. The first phase of the Alma Bridge Road Newt Passage Project is currently underway. The project team compiled a group of stakeholders that includes agency representatives, neighbors, environmental advocates and recreational users associated with the area. The first of four stakeholder working group meetings was held in late 2022; the next is scheduled for early 2023. The project team has finalized a technical review document that discusses project history, natural history of the California newt, and existing site conditions.
Moving forward, the project team will continue to work on the following tasks:
- Identification of corrective actions and feasibility analysis
- Evaluation of alternatives and basis of design
- Ongoing stakeholder collaboration and stakeholder meetings
- Identification and application for grant funds to support future phases
- Updates to the Project website to keep interested parties informed