Seven distinct ecosystems* coexist within** Rancho del Oso. These include a Monterey pine forest (the northernmost of four native populations remaining), which occupies an area just beyond the coast, receiving full-force coastal winds. Further inland, the valley is dense with coast redwood trees, Santa Cruz cypress, madrone, Douglas fir, California laurel, alder, cottonwood, and California nutmeg. Many striking flowers, such as the leopard lily, fairy lantern, and California “lilac” (ceanothus) grow in the area as well.
The Waddell Valley is also a sanctuary to several endangered and threatened species, including red-legged frogs, San Francisco garter snakes, steelhead, and Coho salmon. There have been more than 250 species of birds sighted in the valley and on Waddell Beach, including golden eagles, osprey, snowy plovers, marbled murrelets, and pileated woodpeckers.
*Marsh, creek, meadow, coastal scrub, pine forest, chaparral, and redwood forest.
**Waddell Beach is readily accessible just across Highway 1.