The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County has been working to purchase 48 acres of rolling hills along U.S. Route 101 State Scenic Highway, and next door to the Arroyo Hondo Preserve.
The Land Trust is starting a public campaign to raise $750,000 needed to protect and incorporate the neighboring property known as Gaviota Overlook into the Arroyo Hondo Preserve forever.
“This is the first new piece of conservation on the Gaviota Coast in 15 years,” said Meredith Hendricks, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.
“The Land Trust could not miss this opportunity to create more public access and expand environmental education programming, while setting the stage for a robust future Gaviota Coast trail network,” she said
Since the Land Trust bought and established the Arroyo Hondo Preserve in 2001, more than 16,000 visitors have experienced its trails, education programming, and thriving biodiversity.
Some 26,000 local school children have explored the canyon through the Environmental Education Program, with demand increasing each year.
“The foundation was proud to contribute to this effort early on,” said Jon Clark on behalf of the Bower Family Foundation. “Gaviota Coast conservation is essential to the character and vitality of Santa Barbara County and adding to Arroyo Hondo Preserve and the coastline’s public accessibility is important to us and our community.”
The Land Trust believes the purchase of Gaviota Overlook, 48 acres of rolling coastal grassland neighboring Arroyo Hondo, presents the community with a timely opening to grow the preserve’s trail network, programming, and public access.
The stretch of coastline along the U.S Route 101 State Scenic Highway is considered one of the stellar examples of rural, coastal Central California, and one of the last to remain undeveloped in the southern region.
“Opportunities to expand both public access and the nature preserve’s boundaries are incredibly rare on the Gaviota Coast,” said Joseph Weiland, Land Trust Board president.
“This one purchase will preserve over a half mile of our iconic coastline, ensuring that what you see today will last forever,” he said. “Our Land Trust invites the community to help make this a reality by raising needed funds and preserving another important piece of this world class coastline.”
In addition to providing more public access along the Gaviota Coast and at Arroyo Hondo Preserve, the property offers key ecological benefits. Three watershed drainages recharge the water table with winter rains while the grasslands provide carbon and nitrogen capture, both important to climate resilience.
With the Land Trust’s conservation-minded approach to land management, Meredith Hendricks said, “The climate benefits are enhanced, and the community will experience firsthand why conserving the Gaviota Coast matters. This kind of approach to land management is a working example of the nature-based solutions conservation offers.”
For the Land Trust, “conserving Gaviota Overlook and adding it to Arroyo Hondo Preserve is an act of love and a promise for the future —for — the land, for the community, and for the life it sustains,” Hendricks said.
“Really, this is as much a Valentine to our community now as it is to future generations, and we love that. We hope the people of Santa Barbara County will join us in protecting Gaviota Overlook and make this expansion of habitat, trails, and public access happen,” she said.
Since 1985, The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County has worked with community groups, willing landowners, and other partners to conserve, restore and manage open space, wildlife habitat, and family farms and ranches throughout the county, including the Arroyo Hondo Preserve, Sedgwick Reserve, and the Rincon Bluffs Preserve in Carpinteria.
To help the Land Trust raise $750,000 to protect Gaviota Overlook as part of Arroyo Hondo Preserve, visit https://www.sblandtrust.org/