The agricultural lands of California's Central Coast sustain a 5.6 billion dollar agricultural industry which produces over 200 types of crops. These include the nurseries and brussel sprouts which thrive along the fog-shrouded San Mateo coast, the diverse row crops, berries and apple orchards of the warm Pajaro Valley, and the strawberry fields lining the steep lands surrounding the Elkhorn and Watsonville Sloughs. The rich soils of the broad flat lands along the Salinas River are the "Salad Bowl of the Nation", producing the majority of the country's lettuce and a diverse mix of vegetables, including broccoli, artichokes, celery, and cauliflower. Monterey County alone produces more than 80% of the nation's leaf lettuce, 84% of its artichokes, 55% of its broccoli and cauliflower, and more than one-third of its celery, strawberries and mushrooms.
Rolling grazing lands occupy the slopes of these valleys and much of the watersheds of San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties, sustaining a cattle industry, providing habitat for wildlife, and improving recharge of local water supplies. In recent years, a portion of the grazing lands in Monterey County has been converted to vineyards. Steeper forested lands occupy much of the upper watersheds in Santa Cruz and San Mateo County, sustaining a timber industry, providing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for local residents.
Agricultural products from the region are shipped all over the nation and the world, and provide jobs for thousands of local residents. They are a cornerstone of the region's economy, along with the region's large tourist industry. The agricultural production on these lands also provides an aesthetically pleasing landscape which benefits both tourists and local residents alike. Agriculture is a multi-faceted asset to the region.
Agriculture and the Sanctuary's plants and animals are linked by their mutual dependence on the marine waters which generate the region's unique coastal climate. They are also linked by the drainage patterns of the local watersheds as water flows from the mountains to the flood plains and rivers, and out to sea. Additional links and partnerships between the Sanctuary and agriculture will be needed to protect and sustain our unique natural resources, the area's vital agricultural and tourist economies, and quality of life for local residents.
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