Our conservation programs are aimed at two areas:
Some 75% of the Gaviota Creek Watershed is already either in public lands or protected by conservation easements. Our goal is to protect as much of the rest as possible by working closely with interested land owners. In this effort we collaborate with the California Rangeland Trust and the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, as typically one of them will hold the easement. We may provide financial assistance and often have personal relationships with the land owners going back many years, which can be invaluable.
Coastal Ranches Conservancy helped the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County establish a cattle grazing regime for a portion of their Arroyo Hondo Preserve. We funded the installation of pasture and cross fencing and water troughs to allow rotational grazing to take place for a short time each winter. One of the goals of this on-going project is to determine if we can reduce the wild mustard and shift the vegetation more towards native grasses. The scientific side of the project is overseen by Dr. Marc Horney of Cal Poly SLO.
A local rancher has an artesian well that flows continually. A large population of native pond turtles has taken up residence in the pool which has formed below the well and are busy having baby turtles. Coastal Ranches Conservancy worked with the property owner to provide the funds to fence the cattle out of the turtle pond and provide a water tank and trough some distance away, as an alternative watering location for the cattle. The turtles, the cows, and the rancher are all happy with this solution.
The County often requires revegetation whenever native grasses are impacted by development. Seed for coastal varieties of the native grasses is often needed but frequently not available. So Coastal Ranches Conservancy helped fund the establishment of a seed farm, using seed collected nearby on the Gaviota Coast. The seed farm is a success and each year many pounds of valuable native grass seed is produced.
An infestation of castor beans and Peruvian Pepper Trees in Gaviota State Park was removed with the help of a substantial grant from Coastal Ranches Conservancy. This is expected to slow down the spread of these plants onto adjacent private lands.
Coastal Ranches Conservancy hosted a class to train local property owners in stream “bio-assessment” which uses aquatic insects as indicators of stream health. The class then went on to survey local streams on the Gaviota Coast and gained an appreciation of the different levels of stream health the survey revealed.