SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. -

The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has purchased another 15 acres of Sandhills property in an effort to prevent development that could threaten the rare plants and animals that live there.

The organization purchased the land near Mount Hermon Road and Lockhart Gulch Road in Scotts Valley this week. These 15 acres will be added to the Land Trust’s adjacent 189-acre Morgan Sandhills property.

The Sandhills make up an ancient seabed. Sand dollars, seashells, and fossils of extinct sea mammals can be found there.

The Santa Cruz Sandhills are home to seven species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth, including the Mount Hermon June Beetle, Zayante band-winged grasshopper, Santa Cruz kangaroo rat, Ben Lomond spineflower, Santa Cruz wallflower, Silverleaf manzanita and Ben Lomond buckwheat.

In its 25-Year Conservation Blueprint, completed in 2011, the Land Trust identified the Sandhills as a priority conservation area due to its rarity.