Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

11,000 acres of Conservation Easements are in the Works in Santa Barbara County

Five new Land Trust conservation easement projects will conserve 11,000 acres in Santa Barbara County, dedicating some of our most beautiful ranch and farm land permanently to natural and agricultural use. Conservation agreements with private landowners will protect high priority wildlife corridors, watersheds and scenic resources on private ranches and farms, including regionally rare Blue and Valley oak woodland, with creeks and ponds that sustain rare and endangered plants and animals.Under conservation easements granted in perpetuity to the Land Trust, present and future owners are bound to guard the scenic beauty, wildlife resources and agricultural value of the Gaviota Coast, Figueroa Mountain, Carpinteria foothills and historic ranch land in the Los Alamos Valley.

--2860 acre Midlands School conservation easement: Founded in 1932, Midland School is a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for grades 9-12. The mission of Midland is to teach the value of a lifetime of learning, self-reliance, simplicity, responsibility to community and the environment, and love for the outdoors. The modest campus sits on a magnificent 2,860-acre property bordered by the 5,896-acre Sedgwick Reserve (a Land Trust project that is now part of the University of California Natural Reserve System), the Los Padres National Forest and two private cattle ranches. The Land Trust and TPL are working together to raise $4.6 million for the land project.

--2550 acre Rancho Arbolado conservation easement: The long-time family owners of Rancho Arbolado, a 2,550 acre cattle ranch just north of Gaviota State Park, are looking to the Land Trust to purchase a conservation easement as part of their planning to pass the property on to the next generation. This mostly undeveloped ranch features dense oak woodlands and riparian habitat in the western fork of Gaviota Creek. The project would add to the 7,500 acres of open land already conserved on the Gaviota Coast by the Land Trust and its partners. The easement would limit development on the property to home sites for ranch owners and their employees, and agricultural improvements. It would provide a permanent natural buffer on the north side of Gaviota State Park, and would secure the scenic beauty along Highway 1, a state-designated scenic highway.

--5200 acre conservation easement in Las Flores and Careaga Creeks: The Land Trust is working with three owners of adjacent ranches to create a conservation easement that could protect 5,200 acres of open rangeland, farmland, oak woodland and the watershed of Las Flores and Careaga Creeks. These ranches stretch from the Solomon Hills just south of Orcutt, to Highway 135 and San Antonio Creek near Vandenberg Air Force Base. The conservation easement terms would protect an important wildlife corridor between inland habitat of the San Rafael Mountains and the rich coastal lands of western Santa Barbara County. These properties are one of the few watersheds in the area that have not been converted from rangeland to vineyards.

--533 acre Rancho el Jabali conservation easement: The Sanford's original home and vineyard on Santa Rosa Road, called Rancho el JabalĂ­ (wild boar), shows their desire to maintain harmony between farming and nature. Extending from the Santa Ynez River to the peaks of the Santa Rosa Hills, Rancho el JabalĂ­ provides a valuable wildlife linkage to the Gaviota Creek Watershed south of those peaks. Over 250 acres of oak blue and coast live oak woodland on the ranch have been kept protected, with no agricultural use, for 24 years. Eagles and Peregrine falcons nest in rocky outcrops atop the watershed.

--23 acre David Anderson ranch: The ranch is owned by David H. Anderson - a founder, long-time board member and current general counsel of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, who has been a leader in voluntary land conservation locally and nationally for over two decades. In 2007, David Anderson and his family took their commitment to protecting open land to another level, by donating a conservation easement on the 23-acre avocado ranch they own in the foothills of Carpinteria.

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