What a surprise to find the District has 70 candles on its ‘birthday’ cake this year. Led by local landowners in 1953, the Arroyo Grande RCD was established to find a solution for creek flooding affecting that area’s agricultural lands. By 1978, a new name, Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District (CSLRCD) was adopted, reflecting the District’s growing boundary; the district stretched from the Highway 41 corridor north of Morro Bay, down the coastal valleys to the Nipomo Mesa and Oso Flaco Lake in the south.
The devastating drought plagued, multiyear Dust Bowl event that swept across the Great Plains in the 1930s was an agricultural, ecological, and economic disaster for our country. Federal and state laws established natural resource conservation districts, and CSLRCD is one of the 95 in California today.
In the 1990s, our work focused on projects to reduce sediment transport into Morro Bay. That included the restoration of the 129 acre Chorro Flats flood plain to capture sediment from Chorro Creek. Farm and ranch land projects in the watershed were initiated to provide erosion control, reduce sediment transport and improve water quality in creeks entering the Bay.
CSLRCD projects and programs have evolved and developed over time to provide services to meet today’s land management needs and regulatory requirements. Our programs have grown to provide technical assistance to growers, ranchers, municipalities and other land users from Morro Bay to Nipomo. We manage the county’s Mobile Irrigation Lab audits. Projects include on-farm sediment reduction, fencing, improving water quality, irrigation efficiency for crop nutrient budgeting, rainwater catchment, woodchip bioreactors, waterway stabilization and steelhead recovery projects. We work on solutions for agricultural and climate resilience with Carbon Farm Plans, the CDFA Healthy Soils and Water Efficiency Programs.
Important habitat restoration projects continue district wide. The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Park has a multi year effort planting native plants and seed, and removing invasive species for dust control; a remediation effort addressing pesticides in Osos Flaco Creek is under way; a 90 acre Los Osos Creek Wetland restoration to capture sediment before entering Morro Bay is almost complete; a pollinator friendly habitat was planted along Prefumo Creek; a watershed enhancement project is underway in Stenner Creek; and, we continue to move the Tally Ho Stream restoration project forward.
It is said that ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’ and lands are constantly changing. This year’s winter storms bore that out. Agriculturalists, ranchers and other landowners experience continuing challenges in the management of their lands.
Seventy years. A testament to our commitment to protect, enhance and restore natural resources with local stakeholders. CSLRCD’s increased capacity to do this over the years is reflected on our website. Take a look at it. See the interconnected diversity of the programs and projects carried on by our knowledgeable 11 Staff members as they engage with you, the county residents of our district.
Ms. Szeliga holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and an M.A. in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix, Timonium, MD. She brings 16 years of conservation and leadership experience.
Her early career started with the AmeriCorps as the Assistant Director for Projects and Partnerships located in Washington, DC, and then as Deputy Region Director for Programming. She then moved to Sacramento, CA, to work with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, starting as the Urban Ecology Manager and later as the Director of Urban Forest Renewal.
Linda Chipping, Board Member