Located in the southern part of Monterey County, the Nacitone Watershed is made up of the San Antonio and Nacimiento River watersheds and covers an area of approximately 705 square miles. The Nacitone Watershed is bordered by the Santa Lucia Range on its northwest side and extends east and southeast to the Salinas River in both Monterey County and San Luis Obispo County, with the majority of the Nacimiento River watershed lying in Monterey County and about half of the San Antonio River Watershed located in Monterey County.
Nacitone Watershed consists of a variety of terrains and land uses, including agriculture, grazing, recreational (Lake San Antonio), wild lands (Los Padres National Forest), military (Fort Hunter Liggett), cultural (Mission San Antonio) and rural residential. The San Antonio River sub-watershed includes the Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest (owned by the US Forest Service) and the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base (owned by the US Army). Nacimiento River watershed includes Ventana Wilderness, Fort Hunter Liggett, and Camp Roberts, where both the Nacimiento and San Antonio Rivers meet the Salinas River. Both of the watersheds originate near Cone Peak in the Santa Lucia Mountains at elevations over 3,000 feet and drain into their respective reservoirs, the San Antonio Reservoir, in Monterey County, and the Nacimiento Reservoir, in San Luis Obispo County, which together contribute the majority of the drainage to the Salinas River Valley.
The San Antonio River and the neighboring Nacimiento River watersheds run parallel through the inland side of the Santa Lucia Mountains, with both rivers flowing southward into the Salinas River in the vicinity of Bradley. Most of the foothills and mountains on the flanks of the San Antonio valley are remote, steep, and difficult to access. Native habitats include grasslands, chaparral, riparian woodland, and foothill oak and pine woodlands. The valley is abundant in wildlife and is largely pristine due to the presence of federal land ownership, and is home to a large Tule elk population. The Nacitone Watershed supports numerous threatened and endangered species including the Arroyo Toad, Western Pond Turtle and Red-legged frog. Vegetation is highly flammable with long fire intervals. Two communities, Bryson Hesperia and Lockwood are within the Wildland/Urban Interface and are at increased risk to wildfires.
OUR WORK IN THE WATERSHED
The RCD has participated in the community workshops for the development of the Nacitone Watershed Management Plan (produced by Monterey County Water Resources Agency and others with state funding) and provides on-call assistance to landowners and organizations within the Jolon and San Antonio Valley areas. We have also partnered with the Fire Safe Council for Monterey County on several proposals for funding fuel load reduction work and fire safety planning in the vicinities of Lockwood and Bryson-Hesperia. Unrelated to our applications, PG&E provided funding directly to those communities for roadside fuel break work in 2015 and 2016 that markedly reduced the damages experienced by the Chimney Fire that ran through the area in late 2016.