Oak Woodland Protection Plans

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An environmental summary created by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.

Oak woodlands on the Fort Ord National Monument. Image: BLM

This page describes Oak Woodland Protection Plans for Monterey County.

Oak Woodland Description

The majority of hardwood forest in California is oak woodland, consisting of widely-spaced oaks with native shrubs and grasses in the understory [1]. There are approximately 10 million acres of oak woodlands found in 54 of California’s 58 counties. About 4 percent of the oak woodlands are protected, and 80 percent are located on privately owned property [2]. Over 20 species of oaks may be found in these woodlands, ranging from low-growing shrubs to large trees. Oak woodlands support over 300 terrestrial vertebrates at some life stage, as well as a wide range of insects [3]. There are 130 oak woodland plants listed as sensitive species by the federal or state government, or the California Native Plant Society [4].

California's oak woodlands are threatened primarily by removal for development, but also by diseases such as Sudden Oak Death (SOD), and poor regeneration. Poor regeneration, possibly due to fire suppression and overgrazing, contributes to increased presence of invasive species and long-term habitat change [5].

Locations of Interest

Monterey County

Monterey County is located on the Central Coast of California. Oak woodlands comprise over half a million acres (22%) of Monterey County's total acreage, and are an integral part of an ecosystem that includes over 1,600 plant and animal species [6]. The most common oak species in Monterey County include coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), blue oak (Q. douglasii), and valley oak (Q. lobata).

Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia). Image: CalPhotos (UC Berkeley
Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii)). Image: CalPhotos (UC Berkeley
Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)). Image: CalPhotos (UC Berkeley

Fort Ord

Fort Ord is a former military base located in the southern Monterey Bay area of California. It comprises 28,000 acres near the cities of Seaside, Sand City, Monterey, Del Rey Oaks, and Marina. Approximately 5,000 acres of Fort Ord are oak woodland [7].

Resources at Stake

Oak woodlands moderate temperature extremes, minimize soil erosion, sustain water quality, facilitate nutrient cycling, and provide habitat for numerous wildlife species [8].

Current Protection Plans in Monterey County

County Plan

In order to access funds from the State of California's Oak Woodland's Conservation Fund local jurisdictions must have an Oak Woodlands Management Plan in place. Approximately 50% of Monterey's oak woodlands are on privately owned property, making grant funding a useful tool for collaborations between public and private entities [9]. In 2009, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors adopted the Oak Woodlands Stewardship Guidelines, a voluntary set of guidelines aimed at assisting local landowners in protecting the woodlands. These guidelines will serve as the county's Oak Woodlands Management Plan, making the county eligible for oak woodlands funding from the state [10]. The county does not currently have a formal Oak Woodland Protection Plan.

City of Marina

According to policy 4.120 of the City of Marina General Plan, oak woodlands are to be protected for their biological and aesthetic resource value. In order to build commercial structures or subdivisions in areas containing oak woodlands, a site survey of the woodlands must be completed to identify individual oak trees with a diameter of 6+ inches and a height of 4.5+ feet from ground level. Development plans should incorporate stands of oak woodlands and individual specimen into developments whenever possible. If oak trees must be removed, new trees of the same species must be planted. For every tree with a 6 in diameter and 4.5 foot height cut down, a new tree must be planted. [11]

City of Seaside

Policy COS-4.3 of the City of Seaside General Plan calls for the preservation and enhancement of oak woodland elements in the natural and built environments. Developers are required to retain coast live oaks in the planning and new development areas, and all oaks must be surveyed ahead of development to determine if raptor nests are present and active [12].

City of Del Rey Oaks

The City of Del Rey Oaks General Plan does not have an oak woodland policy.

City of Monterey

Policy d.1 Program d.1.1. of the City of Monterey General Plan requires prevention and management strategies be developed for Sudden Oak Death (SOD) [13].

Laws, Policies and Regulations

State of California

The State of California has given directives to enact oak woodland protection plans, and identifies potential funding sources. California Assembly Bill No. 242 enacted the Oak Woodlands Conservation Act to fund the protection and conservation of the state’s oak woodlands [14]. Local government entities, park and open-space districts, resource conservation districts, private landowners, and nonprofit organizations can obtain funding from the Oak Woodlands Conservation Fund established by the bill [15].

Monterey County

Monterey County Zoning Ordinance Title 21 describes requirements for the preservation of oak and other protected trees [16]. Title 21 regulations apply to the unincorporated areas of Monterey County outside of the Coastal Zone. The ordinance states that no oak tree six inches or more in diameter, two feet above ground level shall be removed from the following areas without a permit: the North County Area Plan, Toro Area Plan, Carmel Valley Master Plan, or Cachagua Area Plan areas, or any other county land designated as Resource Conservation, Residential, Commercial or Industrial.

Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA)

Oak woodlands on Fort Ord, based on terminology used in the [FORA] Base Reuse Plan. Image: Central Coast Watershed Studies

Recreation Policy C1 of the Fort Ord Reuse Plan requires the City of Marina to establish an oak tree protection program focused on the conservation of coastal live oak woodlands[17]. Specifically, the conservation of large corridors within a comprehensive open space system is required. The city is directed to locate trails within this system, and the objective of establishing community parks is identified.

Related Legislation

California Assembly Bill No. 2785 directed the Department of Fish and Game to identify and prioritize areas in the state serving as essential habitat connectors or wildlife corridors[18]. The Department is required to produce vegetative data and analytical products for public and governmental use. The bill states that funding and cost-sharing opportunities with agencies or organizations that use the data will be pursued.


  • County of Monterey
  • City of Marina
  • City of Seaside
  • City of Del Rey Oaks
  • City of Monterey
  • Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA)
  • Sierra Club
  • Keep Fort Ord Wild
  • ...
  • ...


  1. Christensen, Glenn A.; Campbell, Sally J.; Fried, Jeremy S. (2008). California’s forest resources, 2001–2005: five-year Forest Inventory and Analysis report. United States Forest Service.
  2. California Wildlife Conservation Board
  3. University of California. Oak Woodland Management - Woodland Wildlife.
  4. University of California. Sensitive plants of oak woodlands.
  5. PRBO Conservation Science. 2002. The Oak Woodland Bird Conservation Plan
  6. Big Sur Land Trust
  7. Former Fort Ord Environmental Cleanup
  8. Oak Woodlands Conservation Act of 2001, Program Application and Guidelines.
  9. Big Sur Land Trust
  10. Big Sur Land Trust
  11. City of Marina General Plan
  12. City of Seaside General Plan
  13. City of Monterey General Plan
  14. California Assembly Bill No. 242
  15. Oak Woodlands Conservation Program
  16. Monterey County Zoning Ordinance Title 21 § 21.64.260
  17. Fort Ord Reuse Plan Volume 2: Reuse Plan Elements
  18. California Assembly Bill No. 2785



This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of [CSUMB], its staff, or students.