About the Natural Heritage Committee

Areas of Concern

Rana Ranch Water & Flooding Dark Skies
State Park Proposal Carmel River FREE

The Wildlands Conservancy
is About to Aquire Carmel Valley's
Rana Creek Ranch

The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) is very close to acquiring the funds to purchase the Rana Creek Ranch in Carmel Valley. The ranch is located in upper Carmel Valley between the Salinas Valley and the Santa Lucia Range with 12,422 contiguous acres ranging from 900 to 3,400 feet in altitude. The property features numerous springs, seasonal creeks, and wetlands in addition to extensive oak woodlands and native grasslands. The ranch supports populations of the federal and state-listed California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. Rana and Agua Mala Creeks provide potential habitat for re-establishing federally protected South-Central California Coast steelhead in the upper Carmel River. The ranch also provides a key wildlife corridor between the Salinas Valley and Los Padres National Forest.

Numerous wells and developed springs throughout the property supply water to water tanks and cattle troughs. The ranch currently carries approximately 160 calf/cow pairs. The entire ranch is enrolled in an Agricultural Preserve/Williamson Act contract. The property offers over 16 miles of trails and roads suitable for hiking and horseback riding. Carmel Valley Road provides direct access to the ranch at its southwest boundary. TWC intends to develop access to the northeastern portion of the property directly

from the Salinas Valley via an easement through private property. Once developed, this will provide residents of the Salinas Valley, including many low-income communities, with much closer access to the property and its recreational amenities.

With the potential exception of constructing a ranger station, TWC has agreed to restrict future development. There is an existing 9,000-square-foot conference center and several outbuildings that will serve as the preserve’s headquarters and primary visitor access. There is an existing estate home, two guest homes, greenhouse/garden, manager’s residence, pond, and several small associated outbuildings. These facilities will be used as TWC staff housing for preserve operations, rented/leased for revenue generating activities, or a mix of both.

Stay tuned for more information as the situation develops.

Read The Coastal Concervancy Staff Recomentdation

Visit the Wildlife Conservancy Website

Email the Wildlife Conservancy

Dark Skies

April 19, 2022, at 7 PM Carmel Valley Association President C.S. Noel met with Meredith Nole at mid-valley shopping center to survey existing lighting systems along Carmel Valley Road, and a few side streets. Starting by Kasey’s our findings as follows:

KASEY’S shopping area:

Exterior lighting on Kasey’s building is all High Pressure Sodium ( HPS ) fixtures. Some fixtures are flood lights. most all fixtures face outward, allowing light for the gas & parking areas to illuminate the entire area. This is important for safety, and this area has spillover lighting and some medium “glare”. HPS is the second most energy efficient lighting (next to Low Pressure Sodium which is monochromatic ), yet LED lighting is much more energy efficient & cost effective as the same fixtures can be used by simply removing the ballasts and screwing in LED lamps (bulbs) for some fixtures and repositioning. Flood light fixtures can easily be changed out to more Dark Sky friendly, with aiming downward & not outward, yet safety & security of the gas station area is primary. This particular location, due to functionality, need very specific placement of any fixture changeout.


Colonial type fixtures on poles along the street areas, some have low wattage white color LED
lamps, and others have HPS. This fixture type has 360 degree light spread, and if decided, can easily have the fixtures changed to down lighting fixtures that can fit onto the existing poles. These fixtures are not glare, yet can become more Dark Sky friendly.


Existing new LED post top fixtures on poles. The LED arrays are in the top of fixtures allowing
good Illumination levels for see-ability for parking lot area, yet the light spills out the sides in 360 degrees.

Next door to the Post Office is a residential building, and light from the Post Office poles, reach the side windows of the residential building. Additionally, the residential building has wall packs and wall mounted fixtures, that are all facing outward, not downward. The residential building does have the option of changing the exterior fixtures to downlight fixtures.


This school did the exterior lighting right. All cut-off wall pack fixtures along the rear side area of the building, and all fixtures we saw. Congratulation to TULARCITOS ELEMENTARY!!


Along the ride west from Ford Road, no specific light fixtures produced any noticeable glare or spillover light. There were a couple of light fixtures noticeable, but not intrusive.


Each business needs see-ability for it’s location & a form of advertising, and everyone does the very best they know how to achieve their objective, yet the string lights surrounding the signage actually blocks out reading their sign when the lights are on. To have their sign easily readable. A thin linear LED fixture facing downward onto the sigh from the top of the sign, would wash the their sign with light, allowing all letters to be easily seen, without seeing any glaring light blinding out their sign.

Also, this location has run linear string lights far behind their shop. I will check to find out the hours these lights are kept on at night, to find out if the lights interfere with natural darkness for all & any living things in the area. Having light interfere with natural dark cycle is not healthy for any living animal – or person.


Major changes here, with additional string lights, patios, etc. which appear to indicate some type venues to occur there. This area, as well as next door at Hacienda Hay & Feed produced the most lit area on CVR. There are no direct residential areas where spillover lights occur, yet I’m inclined to think these light is this area, may be visible from some homes up hills, or other locations. NOTE: All LED lighting must be 2700 kelvin color temperature where ever possible, this is Carmel’s color of lighting. 3000 kelvin is the next closest, yet more white in color.

State Park Propoposal:

Carmel Lagoon

Although not within the Carmel Valley Master Plan, the proposal from State Parks for Odello West, River and Monastery Beaches, Pt Lobos Ranch, and Bay School will affect our valley's eco-system and traffic. The proposal includes reducing parking at Pt. Lobos and along Highway one, adding parking at Bay School, Pt. Lobos Ranch and Odello, and boating and bike rentals.

Link to the State Park Proposal, Traffic Study, and Map

The Carmel Valley Association strongly supports the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project (Carmel River FREE)

The project will restore habitat and help significantly reduce flood risks to over 300 homes and businesses in the lower Carmel River watershed, including housing on Rio Road and Mission Fields, and businesses in the Crossroads Shopping Center.

This project is one of the most extensive and important multi-benefit flood protection and riparian habitat restoration efforts on the Central Coast! Using a nature-based green infrastructure solution, it will reclaim the southern floodplain to direct water away from developed areas north of the river.

Read More about Carmel River Free on the Big Sur Land Trust Website

Water & Flooding

CVA continues to monitor proposals affecting our valley.

Read CVA's Water Policy
Adopted 2/15/12


Below are links to information concerning our river and water supply.

An Overview of the Carmel River Watershed from CSUMB


Water Wasted to the Sea?

From the Monterey County Weekly, a history of water on the Monterey Peninsula written by reporter Asaf Shalev:

With the future of the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply—and water utility—on the line,
we take a look back at how we got here.

History of the Carmel River
A working paper compiled by
the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy.

Carmel River
Stewardship Manual

A guide for people living in the
Carmel River Watershed.
Created by the
Resource Conservation District

History of the Carmel River
A working paper compiled by
the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy.

The Carmel River Watershed Conservancy
A nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Carmel River.

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD)

Water conservation design codes added to California Plumbing Code.

Additional water conservation information.

Things to Know If You Live Near
a Creek or the Carmel River

Carmel River Steelhead Association

Links to Articles on Dam Removal, Climate Change, Ubanization and Sediment

County Proposes a 8 Foot High Barrier
Along the North Side of Carmel Lagoon and River Beach

From the project Draft Environment Impact Report (DEIR):

Based on the comments received during the Notice of Preparation scoping periods, the following key topics and areas of controversy have been identified:

  • lack of support by State Parks and necessity for legislative action if proposed project component is placed on State Parks land
  • impacts to water quality 
  • technical feasibility of the proposed project components ·
  • aesthetic impacts 
  • flooding impacts on- and off-site 
  • cultural resources impacts 
  • wetland and other habitat impacts 
  • impacts to steelhead 
  • encroachment into State Parks property   
  • consistency with applicable planning policies and regulations 
  • hazardous materials 
  • public access.

CVA has concerns about the barrier's visual impact, its impacts on the wastewater plant, and its intrusion onto state park land. 

About the Natural Heritage Committee

Committee Mission = celebrate, protect, restore and sustain Carmel Valley’s natural ecosystems; the social, cultural, spiritual, and economic benefits they provide; and the vital and valued linkages between people and nature in the Valley -- past, present, and future.

Geographic Scope = all of Carmel Valley’s watershed ecosystems from ridge to river to ridge, and from the coast to the inland valley.

Theme-Based Approach = using flexible teams of Committee members and outside partners to focus on important aspects of Carmel Valley’s environment that contribute to and/or are impacted by Land Use activities. Major themes might include:

CV’s Ecosystem Integrity – tangible components and ecological processes of nature:

Natural Biodiversity – preserving and restoring Carmel Valley’s native animals and plants, the biological communities and habitats where they live, and the benefits they provide to CV ecosystems, residents and visitors.

Watershed – restoring natural flows, habitats, ecosystem processes and iconic species of the Carmel River and its tributaries (e.g. Steelhead Trout, Red Legged Frogs).

Invasive Species – preventing the spread of harmful, non-native species through education, prevention and control (e.g. Genista, Pampas grass).

CV’s Defining Features – valued and more intangible benefits from CV ecosystems:

Iconic Viewsheds – preserving treasured valley and coastal views from degradation.

Dark Skies – protecting naturally starry skies from excessive nighttime lighting.

Natural Soundscapes – restoring the Valley’s traditional quietude.

Committee Composition = mix of doers, planners and connectors who can envision and execute collaborative projects that improve nature and the quality of life in Carmel Valley.

Tools = designed to fit the issue and project’s needs; approaches include:

• Outreach and Education via newsletter, website, social media, products.

• Hands-on efforts in the field.

• Research and Assessment on important issues.

• Advocacy for beneficial policies, management actions or best practices among agencies, residents and visitors.