In the heart of the southern Santa Lucia Mountains, Santa Rita Ranch sits at the head of Highway 46 West between the Pacific Ocean and Templeton. The 29th. In December 2020, this 1,715-acre property was purchased by the San Luis Obispo County Land Office (LCSLO), a non-profit land trust, and is permanently protected.
These conservation efforts began in 2018 when LCSLO partnered with The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit conservation organization, to protect this incredible ranch. Since the property is being actively marketed and the COLSA needs time to raise the necessary funds to purchase it, it has asked the Conservation Fund to intervene. The foundation was able to negotiate the purchase of the ranch in May 2020 and take possession before the end of the year.
Faced with the December deadline to buy the ranch, LCSLO’s staff and board worked quietly and diligently to raise nearly three-quarters of the $8 million. This funding included a $3.94 million grant. The State of California Wildlife Council’s Stormwater Improvement Program provided a total of $1.5 million. The organization borrowed from its internal reserves to complete the purchase and maintain the Santa Rita Ranch in perpetuity. LCSLO continues to seek donations to fully fund this wonderful conservation project.
Santa Rita Ranch is characterized by imposing holm oaks, dense laurel forests and a remarkable freshwater lake. In addition to the ranch’s lush hardwood forests, the pastures are dotted with serpentine meadows that are home to a variety of rare and native flowering and succulent plants. Santa Rita Creek, a ranch of the same name, forms the headwaters of the Salinas River here.
The property is now permanently protected by the OLA. The organization will maintain the property as a wildlife sanctuary, a sustainable cattle ranch and a future environmental education center. The OSCA will continue to lease the land to a farmer who grew up on the property and raised livestock there for many years. This partnership is consistent with the LCSRLO’s mission to support local agriculture and ensure sustainable grazing on the ranch.
Santa Rita Ranch is a beautiful place filled with wildlife, breathtaking views, abundant water and charismatic oaks, says Kayla Dettman, executive director of LCSLO. Ferns grow on the slopes between the laurel and madron trees and cattle graze happily in the fields. As soon as we set foot on this earth, we knew it was special, and we were so excited to share this message that we protected it forever. I am forever grateful to all our supporters who made this possible.
Over the past seven months, LCSLO has consistently protected nearly 4,000 acres in SLO County. This includes the purchase of the Santa Rita Ranch as part of a larger 6,000-acre conservation project along Highway 46 West. Maintaining these work facilities is part of the organization’s broader vision to help shape the future of the Adelaide area in our province.
Steve Hobbs, director of the State of California Conservation Foundation, said LCSLO’s vision and efforts to preserve the unique landscape of the Adelaide region are ambitious but essential. Rancho Santa Rita is one of the most beautiful and important ecological areas, and we are pleased to partner again with LCSLO – who has already provided bridge funding for infrastructure at the Pismo Reservation to protect Rancho Santa Rita.
To celebrate this purchase, the San Luis Outdoor Painters for the Environment (SLOPE) will host a special event starting on the 28th. Until January 28. February to host a virtual art exhibit featuring paintings from ranches they were privileged to visit last fall.
Laurel Sherry, a 16-year-old member of the art group, said hearing about the Santa Rita Ranch project at the Land Conservancy was exciting, and for SLOPE, being invited to paint there was exciting! Exploring the ranch and being there to put it on canvas, putting our efforts into this endeavor, is extremely meaningful and gives meaning to our art.
For more information on the art exhibit and opening ceremony, click here, and view images of the ranch here.
To make a tax-deductible donation in support of Rancho Santa Rita, individuals and businesses can make an online donation through the Land Conservancy’s website at LCSLO.org or call Kayla Dettman, Executive Director, at 805-544-9096.
About the site
The San Luis Obispo County Land Conservancy is a non-profit, community supported, local land fund dedicated to preserving and maintaining a variety of wild lands, farms and ranches on the Central Coast and connecting people to the land and to each other. The Land Trust helps protect drinking water sources, prevent poorly planned development, restore wildlife habitat, promote family farms and ranches in our region, and connect people of all ages and backgrounds to the land. The Land Conservancy leads a collaborative effort that has resulted in the permanent protection of more than 26,500 acres of land in San Luis Obispo County since 1984.
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