Monday, April 21, 2014

Quail Hollow Ranch Willow Tree Gets State, National Recognition


            Quail Hollow Ranch County Park has received state and national recognition for a champion tree, a Red Willow, as well as a $183,000 state grant to restore reaches of Quail Hollow Brook.
            The California Big Trees Registry and the National Register of Big Trees have awarded the Quail Hollow Ranch County Park Red Willow (Salix Laevigata) the State Championship and the U.S. Championship red willow.  The willow, nominated for the awards in 2012, is near the pond close to the entrance of Quail Hollow.  It measures 56.4 feet high, with a trunk circumference of 66.25 inches and a crown spread of 39.31 feet.
            The tree was nominated by Al Keuter, a volunteer at Quail Hollow Park who   documented flora and fauna at the park for a decade before “discovering” the outstanding tree specimen.
            “Not only did the leaves turn out to be those of a red willow (newly listed for the park), but those leaves were attached to a 56 foot tall tree. Hard to miss right?” said Keuter. “Apparently the leaves had to hit me in the face.”

            The State Habitat Conservation Fund grant, matched by the County and totaling $365,340, will include stream bank and stream bed stabilization, native plant restoration plantings and interpretive signage, all of which will benefit both on-site and off-site animal and plant habitats.  It is anticipated that the restoration work will begin next summer and be completed in late fall.
            “This national recognition and state grant are welcome, well deserved, and critically important for our very special Quail Hollow Ranch County Park,” said Supervisor Bruce McPherson, who represents the Fifth District on the County Board of Supervisors.  “The County has worked very hard to sustain this ecological jewel as envisioned by the original owners.”
            “Broom bashing” work will also continue at the park using funds from a $35,000 State Habitat Conservations Fund Wildlife Area Activities Grant awarded last year for programs and activities at Quail Hollow Ranch.  In addition to the invasive plant removal program, the grant will help fund summer camps, interpretive programs, and nest box monitoring.
     “We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of community volunteers caring for the habitat and enriching the experience at Quail Hollow Ranch,” said Betsey Lynberg, Santa Cruz County Parks Director.  
            Quail Hollow Ranch County Park is a 300-acre open space and historic horse ranch located near Felton and Ben Lomond.  The park has hiking and equestrian trails, scenic overlooks, and dramatically varied habitats, from the aquatic environs of the pond to sensitive and unique sand hills.  The ranch is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species. 

            The old ranch house, which was originally owned and built by the Lane family, founders of Sunset Magazine who donated the property to the County, is used for interpretive displays, a library, and hosting meetings.  The park is open all year long, parking is free. 

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