The Santa Cruz Sandhills are a unique community of plants and animals found only on outcrops of Zayante sands in the central portion of Santa Cruz County. Due to their limited geographic range (Santa Cruz County) and narrow habitat specificity (Zayante Soils), the endemic communities and species of the Sandhills are naturally extraordinarily rare. Estimated to cover 6,000 acres originally, approximately 40% of Sandhills habitat has been lost, primarily due to sand quarrying and development.

The Santa Cruz Sandhills are home to a number of plant and animal species that are endemic to (found only in) the Sandhills. Named after the towns and neighborhoods in the region, they are:

  • Ben Lomond Spineflower
  • Ben Lomond Buckwheat
  • Bonny Doon Silverleaf manzanita
  • Santa Cruz Wallflower
  • Santa Cruz Cypress
  • Santa Cruz Monkeyflower
  • Santa Cruz Kangaroo Rat
  • Mount Hermon June Beetle
  • Zayante Band-Winged Grasshopper

As a result of habitat loss, the Mount Hermon June Beetle and Zayante Band-Winged Grasshopper were listed as endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 1997. Development projects that are proposed within the Santa Cruz Sandhills are subject to the codes and policies designed to protect the Sandhills habitat.