With rolling hills, towering oak trees, dense forests of bay laurel, and a remarkable freshwater lake, California’s Santa Rita Ranch is truly a special place. Located along San Luis Obispo County’s North Coast, the 1,715 acre ranch was put up for sale in 2018 and the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County (LCSLO) knew that they needed to act swiftly to purchase and protect the property before it was sold to a buyer who might develop the land instead of conserve it.
LCSLO, a non-profit land trust, used a Conservation Alliance grant to support the acquisition and permanent protection of the Santa Rita Ranch. Currently, the organization is working to finalize a stewardship plan which will inform management for wildlife habitat, water resources, nature education, and managed public access to the ranch. Through convening biologists, environmental scientists, community partners, and the local tribe out on the land, LCSLO is working to shape the role that the ranch will play in the community moving forward. At the end of the planning process, Santa Rita will be home to a wide range of uses, such as guided hikes and trail rides, a nature education center, sustainable cattle grazing, and other uses that are suitable to the protection of remarkable wildlife habitat.
The protection of the Santa Rita Ranch is great news for humans and wildlife. Deer, turkey, mountain lion, and black bear all can be found roaming in the Santa Rita’s dense woodlands.
Now that the ranch is protected, it will forever act as a safe migratory corridor for animals and birds and the freshwater lake at the heart of the property will remain a critical source of year-round water for a variety of rare and important species.
The protection of the Santa Rita Ranch is a huge benefit to the Central Coast communities that surround the property. The newly protected ranch will offer one-of-a-kind educational and managed recreational opportunities while providing refuge to wildlife of all kinds, which is a success that everyone can celebrate.