The focus of Coastal Ranches Conservancy is exclusively on the Gaviota Coast, a globally significant Mediterranean landscape and biodiversity hot spot, one of the top 15 on the planet. The Gaviota Coast represents 50% of the remaining rural coastline in Southern California. This is where we work and live and our connections to the land and the people are strong.
The lands south of Highway 101 and west of El Capitan State Park are almost entirely owned by the State of California. North of Highway 101 and south of the steep mountain slopes of Los Padres National Forest, most of the land is in agriculture, with some avocado orchards, horse farms and even irrigated row crops. But the majority of the private land north of Highway 101 and west of Goleta, all the way to Lompoc and Vandenberg Air Force Base, consists of private cattle ranches.
These ranches have a history reaching back to the early 19th century when they were granted by the government of Spain to individuals for their public service. When California became part of the United States in 1850, many of these ranches were acquired by newly arrived Easterners though marriage or purchase. The Diblee’s and the Hollister’s shared ownership of nearly 100,000 acres, which later got divided up into the Hollister Ranch, Rancho San Julian, and Rancho Nuestra Senora del Refugio which stretched from Gaviota to Glen Annie. Towards Point Conception, the Cojo and Jalama Ranches and the Jesus y Maria and Sudden ranches, now part of Vandenberg, add another 50,000 or so acres of coastal ranch lands; all still in much the same condition as they were 200 years ago.
This is the environment Coastal Ranches Conservancy works to conserve and protect. We work cooperatively with the ranching families and public agencies that manage the lands today to protect the wildlife, work towards better land management, and educate others about this unique heritage.