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Sensitive Habitat in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County has a wide variety of different sensitive habitat types. From the stream corridors, lakes, ponds and wetlands, to the unique Sandhills habitat in the San Lorenzo Valley and North Coast, the salamander habitat around Aptos and Watsonville, the native grass lands of the coastal terraces, and the San Andreas oak woodland.

Sensitive habitats are often some of the last remaining habitat for plants and animals in danger of dying out due to low numbers of individuals per population, a limited number of populations, or a highly limited, fragmented, or vulnerable habitat. In Santa Cruz County, habitat is considered sensitive if it provides habitat for plant or animal species or communities that are locally unique, or are recognized by the State or Federal Resource Agencies as being rare, threatened endangered, or a species of special concern. Areas immediately adjacent to essential habitat for rare, threatened or endangered species may also be considered sensitive. Lakes, beaches, lagoons, reefs, wetlands and stream corridors are all considered sensitive as well.

As our society continues to grow, development threatens these last remaining refuges, and at all levels of government - Federal, State and Local - measures have been put in place to protect these species and their habitats from extinction. General Plan Chapter 5 and County Code Title 16 both regulate Development in Sensitive Habitat.

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