The Santa Lucia Peaks rise up over 4000' in the Santa Lucia Mountains southeast of Monterey Bay, and three of them extend over 5000' in elevation. Much like the Big Pine Mountain IBA to the south, they represent a cluster of highly isolated patches of high elevation Ponderosa Pine forest surrounded by chaparral. Four specific peaks are highlighted: Anderson Peak on the coastal ridge (4098'), Chews Ridge and vicinity (5060'), Cone Peak and vicinity (5155') and Junipero Serra Peak (5862'). Both Cone Peak and Junipero Serra have isolated Sugar Pine stands, and the endemic Santa Lucia fir grows around Cone Peak.

Updated by Monterey Peninsula Audubon, September 2008

Ornithological Summary

The Santa Lucias were found to support some of the highest breeding bird species diversity in Monterey Co. (Roberson and Tenney 1993). All four highlighted peaks have colonies of Purple Martin, and the interior three over 5000' elevation have breeding populations of Flammulated Owl, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and "Audubon's" Warbler that are highly localized south of San Francisco Bay. Cone Peak and Junipero Serra have supported local populations of Mountain Chickadee. Black Swift, California Spotted Owl, and Sharp-shinned Hawk nest at lower elevations within this area. The Ventana Wildlife Society has its major release site for the California Condor reintroduction at 2770' (844m) on the Anderson Peak ridge.

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Conservation Issues

Much of the Santa Lucia Peaks is fully protected within the Ventana Wilderness: some areas are outside the Wilderness but within Los Padres National Forest or the private enclave owned by Ventana Wildlife Society. Threats have been lead in bullets used by hunters, but a new law banned lead bullets in July 2008. Navy over-flights and power lines may have affected condors, but these effects are being minimized. Fire is an ever-present danger; much of the western and northern area of this IBA was burned over by the summer 2008 Basi Complex fire. Losses included all the condor holding pens and support facilities, which will need reconstruction.

Ownership

The Santa Lucia Peaks are fully protected by the Ventana Wilderness.

Habitat

The Santa Lucia Peaks rise up to near 6000? in the Outer Coast Range about 40 miles southeast of Monterey. Like the Big Pine Mtn. Area to the south, they represent a cluster of highly-isolated patches of high-elevation Ponderosa Pine forest surrounded by chaparral. Major promontories include Junipero Serra and Cone peaks. Chews Ridge, a high area just southeast of Carmel with an introduced stand of Jeffrey Pine, has a similar avifauna. The coniferous forest of the peaks is dominated by a rare habitat type, Santa Lucia Fir Forest, dominated by the endemic Santa Lucia Fir.

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