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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 27th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 43

The Nature Conservancy acquires 24,000 acres near Vandenberg

By JOE PAYNE

The Nature Conservancy announced the purchase of 24,000 acres of coastal habitat along Santa Barbara County's coast surrounding Point Conception and bordering Vandenberg Air Force Base on Dec. 22.

The historic purchase was made thanks to a donation of $165 million  from Jack and Laura Dangermond, conservationists and co-founders of Esri, based out of Redlands, California. The donation is the largest single philanthropic gift in The Nature Conservancy's history, according to a release from the organization.


PROTECTED POINT
The Nature Conservancy announced on Dec. 22 the purchase of 24,000 acres of land along the coast of Santa Barbara County bordering Vandenberg Air Force Base and surrounding Point Conception, thanks to a $165 million donation from Jack and Laura Dangermond of Redlands, California.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

The land, known as Bixby Ranch and Jalama Ranch over the years, includes 8 miles of coastline, several distinct ecological habitats, and 40 miles of streams and creeks, explained Mark Reynolds, The Nature Conservancy's lead scientist on the project.

The deal was more than a year in the making, Reynolds told the Sun, during which time he visited the property to assess its value as a nature preserve.

"It's inspiring," he said. "This is some of the largest tracks of unfragmented oak woodland that I've ever seen, and to be able to see from the high point on the land, and see the Santa Barbara Channel, and look west, you're really standing on the corner of California."

The Nature Conservancy will manage the land, which is to be named The Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. The project will be a part of preservation efforts in Santa Barbara County, which include the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes and Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands.

Third District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann issued a statement on Dec. 22, celebrating the donation and land deal.

"This is a breathtaking act of foresight and generosity that will define the Central Coast from this day forward," Hartmann said in the statement. "I was honored to work with the Nature Conservancy and Baupost Group (the seller) in the final stages of this acquisition."

The land has more than ecological significance. Ancient Chumash prized Point Conception is a spiritual center, and the land has been the site of historic cattle ranching for decades.

"This place is special for many reasons," Mike Sweeney, executive director of The Nature Conservancy's California chapter said in the release. "We aim to build on that with a robust applied research agenda that delivers insights for conservationists around the world."

The sprawling coastline is home to more than 39 species of plants and animals that are currently under threatened or special status, according to The Nature Conservancy. It's also a "crucial wildlife corridor" for mountain lions, bears, and bobcats.

Reynolds said the new preserve will further a legacy of conservation on the Central Coast and link the Point Conception State Marine Reserve to preservation efforts on land.

"Having two of The Nature Conservancy's largest projects anywhere in Santa Barbara County, as well as all the great work of partner organizations like the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and others, and the location next to Vandenberg Air Force Base and nearby the Los Padres National Forest, this really allows us to help keep a lot of what is great about Santa Barbara County into the future," Reynolds said.

The Dangermonds were involved in the project for more than a year, Reynolds said, and their historic donation has already led to other donations to The Nature Conservancy.

"We want to inspire more people to give major contributions toward conservations; that's the only reason we've chosen to share our involvement," Jack Dangermond said in the release. "We want to set an example. Conservation isn't just being nice to animals or plants, it's investing in the continued life-support systems of humans and all other species on the planet. We need more people to step up to protect our last great places." 




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