Coastal Properties or Conservation Easements
Carpinteria Marsh Land Acquisitions
Carpinteria Salt Marsh's 230 acres is home to numerous rare and
endangered plant and animal species. The salt marsh is one of the
few relatively natural estuaries along the Southern California coast
and one of the State's most important coastal resources. The County's
Local Coastal Plan designates the salt marsh as extremely valuable
The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County acquired 37 acres of wetlands
within the boundaries of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh. These acres
are located east of the 115 acres owned by the University of California's
Natural Reserve System. Acquisition of the properties allowed for
restoration of tidal wetlands and provides for public access to
the beachfront portion of the property. Interpretive signs along
a trail system explain the importance of coastal wetlands in the
protection of wildlife, migratory birds, and fish. The University
and the Trust both manage the 152 acres.
Carpinteria Bluffs Acquisition
52-acre coastal bluff property in Carpinteria is the undeveloped
western portion of a larger 157 acres, commonly known as the Carpinteria
Bluffs. The property lies between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean.
Portions of the Carpinteria Bluffs are the largest undeveloped coastal
open space left between the City of Santa Barbara and the Ventura
County line. The bluffs offer sweeping views of the Santa Barbara
Channel and the Channel Islands and Santa Ynez Mountains.
The bluffs offer access to the beach below, an overlook, and a
California Harbor Seal rookery. The rookery includes a haul-out
area where the females bear their pups. This rookery is significant
in that it is one of only four along the Southern California coast
and is the only one accessible to the public. During the pupping
season, volunteers watch around the clock to protect the newborns
from human disturbance and to inform viewers about the federally
Currently, the bluffs offer opportunities for a variety of passive
recreational uses, such as hiking, bird watching, painting, photograph,
and picnicking. Soccer and baseball fields may be located along
the northern portion of the 52-acre property. But the meadows of
native stipa grasslands and coastal sage scrub habitat have been
protected with the purchase and have become foraging grounds for
such birds as the White-tailed kite, Loggerhead shrike, American
kestrel, Red-tailed and Coopers hawks.
Wilcox Property Acquisition
on a $1 million CREF award, the Trust for Public Land, the Small
Wilderness Area Preservation and the local community fund-raised
an additional $2.6 million to purchase 69 acres of oceanfront blufftop
property on the Santa Barbara Mesa above Arroyo Burro Beach. Developers
had long sought to develop this site until finally deciding to sell
it to the community at the bargain price of $3.6 million, approximately
half the appraised value of the property.
Renamed as the Douglas Family Preserve, this coastal open space
is owned by the City of Santa Barbara. A Restricting Use recorded
with the Grant Deed stipulates the native flora and fauna onsite
must be protected and the property must be used for low-intensity
uses as an urban wilderness preserve. A quarter of the property
contains a rare reproducing grove of coast live oak trees. A vernal
pool, coastal sage, native willow, and California sunflower also
adorn the property. These habitats allow for the red and gray foxes,
the great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, black-shouldered kite, and
many other bird species to make the preserve their home. The monarch
butterflies annually visit seven acres of butterfly habitat onsite.
Visitors can enjoy a peaceful walk, run, or bike ride along the
many trails onsite. Many come to enjoy the panoramic ocean views,
sunsets over the ocean, and whale watching. Artists are often seen
scattered throughout the preserve painting a wilderness scene. Hang
gliders enjoy the thermal currents from the cliffs on a windy day.
Public acquisition of this preserve allows for future generations
to experience wilderness surroundings within the city.
Arroyo Hondo Ranch Acquisition
have called it "little Yosemite." Extending from the top
of the Santa Ynez Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest down
to the ocean, Rancho Arroyo Hondo's natural resources are extraordinary.
Along with the biological resources, the cultural, historical, recreational,
and scenic resources of this 782-acre site are unmatched along the
central coast. The ecologically pristine condition of most of the
property offers a glimpse of what the Gaviota Coast was once like
a hundred years ago.
The boundaries of the ranch follow the ridgelines on either side
of a canyon, encompassing nearly the entire watershed of Arroyo
Hondo Creek. Steelhead trout, red-legged frog, southwestern pond
turtles, and the tidewater goby swim in the waters of this perennial
creek. Sharp-skinned hawks, four species of owls, and peregrine
falcons forage in the meadows and perch on the branches of the many
oaks and cottonwoods. Mountain lion, black bear, grey fox, bobcat,
and coyote prowl within these canyon walls.
Home to over 525 plant species, the ecological diversity of the
Rancho Arroyo Hondo provides a relatively undisturbed blend of habitat
communities. Steep canyon walls lined with dramatic sandstone formations,
shaded fern grottos, granite ravines, and sweeping ocean views provide
the visitor with an unending visual rapture. Rancho Arroyo Hondo
is a scenic treasure.
Freeman Ranch Easement
hundred and sixty acres behind Refugio State Beach is forever protected
from development under a conservation easement; grassy, oak-dotted
slopes rising behind this popular beach will remain as is. The Land
Trust for Santa Barbara County raised $990,000 to purchase the easement.
This particular conservation easement allows the Freeman family
to keep the land in their family and continue farming on it. Historically
this ranch has supported cattle ranching and some hay and grain
farming. In return, the easement commits the Freeman family (and
future owners) to protect the natural resources onsite, such as
a 30-acre oak woodland, one-mile of riparian habitat along Refugio
Creek, and a spring-fed vernal pond. A provision in the conservation
easement requires the landowner to avoid overgrazing.
The Land Trust uses their first conservation easement on the Gaviota
Coast as a model for other landowners to sell easements. The conservation
easement demonstrates a voluntary, incentive-based approach that
maintains agricultural use while protecting sensitive resources
and open space along the Gaviota Coast for perpetuity.
new Coronado Butterfly Preserve now is the northern gateway into
the adjacent site where Monarch butterflies aggregation annually.
The Goleta Union School District deemed nine acres of open space
unsuitable for a new school site since it is located under the flight
path of the Santa Barbara Airport. So the District sold the land
to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County for a discounted price
The Land Trust acquired the nine acres in April of 1999. Two years
and many volunteer hours later, the land is adorned with trails,
an outdoor classroom, native plants, and interpretative signs focusing
on the Monarch butterfly's life cycle, migratory pattern, and overwintering
and foraging habitat. The site is an outdoor educational resource
for Goleta elementary schools and an urban nature preserve used
by the local community and visitors to the butterfly aggregation
site and the coastal bluffs.
Burton Mesa Acquisition
and Vandenberg Village residents now enjoy 6,000 acres of nature
preserve. Hikers, joggers, and birders can explore the continuous
mosaic habitat of Burton Mesa chaparral, Santa Cruz Island pines,
vernal pools, and coastal scrub.
The Burton Mesa area is an elevated terrace of remnant Pleistocene
dunes, which are now found only in isolated areas along the California
coast. The Burton Mesa terrace resembles coastal backdunes since
many of its vegetative species are typically found only along the
coast. The most prominent coastal specie in this area is the Burton
Mesa chaparral, a type of maritime chaparral. The Burton Mesa site
supports the only known occurrence of the Santa Cruz Island Pine
on the mainland; this tree is found on the Channel Islands.
The extensive area provides an extraordinary scenic landscape,
which is viewed by neighboring communities and travelers on Highway
Point Sal Beach Acquisition
one of the most spectacular and scenic areas on the California coast,
Point Sal area's unique geologic formations and remote wind-swept
dunes and bluffs provide a dramatic ambiance. It is one of only
four public access points to the coast in all of northern Santa
Barbara County. The Management Plan for the Point Sal Reserve declares
the recreational potential for this area as superb because of its
environmental attributes, such as geology, botany, wildlife, and
The area's oceanfront location sustains an abundance of wildlife.
The mingling of two major ocean currents offshore creates coastal
upwelling, which influences the occurrence of various marine birds
and marine mammals. The area appears to be the southern limit for
the Steller sea lion and northern fur seal and the northern limit
for the Guadalupe fur seal and the northern elephant seal. The coastal
dune community supports several species of birds, including the
rufous-crowned sparrow. This small bird is either uncommon or absent
from the rest of coastal Santa Barbara County.
The diverse and rich habitats that sustain the wildlife here include
nearshore waters, intertidal, sandy beach, rocky shoreline, stabilized
dune scrub, coastal sage scrub, willow riparian, wetland, and non-native
woodland. Over 8,000 years ago, these varied habitats and the associated
wildlife sustained the Chumash as well; an unusually large number
of archaeological sites are found in this area. In a regional context,
Point Sal is unsurpassed in terms of its natural and cultural resources.