While habitat preservation is essential, it will not be sufficient to conserve the endemic species and communities of the Santa Cruz Sandhills. Instead, active habitat management will be needed to prevent and repair degradation caused by recreation, exotic species, and fire exclusion.
The Sandhills Conservation and Management Plan describes general management approaches for Sandhills habitat, as well as strategies for the management of fire, exotic species, and recreation. These Sandhills-specific management recommendations were developed through careful consideration of the available scientific information about the ecology of the species and communities, as well as their rarity and fragility.
Fire management will be needed to maintain open habitat required by many Sandhills plants and animals. Such efforts have been initiated at Henry Cowell State Park, where small prescription burns have been used to create open habitat and reduce the risk of catastrophic fire.
Exotic plant species must be controlled and where possible eradicated to maintain habitat conditions for endangered plants and animals. Acacia and broom species are being removed from Sandhills habitat in Mount Hermon, Quail Hollow Ranch County Park, the Olympia Wellfield of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District, the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, and the Ben Lomond Sandhills Preserve of the Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank.
Recreation management is needed to prevent degradation caused by intense and frequent human use of Sandhills habitat. Though recreation is largely prohibited in Sandhills habitat preserves, unlawful use continues to degrade habitat. Education and outreach will be needed to increase awareness of the uniqueness, fragility, and rarity of Sandhills habitat and thus enhance support for seemingly stringent recreation management policies.
More detailed recommendations for managment of Sandhills habitat are described in the Sandhills Conservation and Management Plan.