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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Couple donates $165 million to preserve 24,000 acres at Point Conception

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by Thomas Curwen December 22 2017 read full LA Times article here

A conservation group on Thursday purchased a sprawling stretch of Santa Barbara County coastline — a prized acquisition made possible by a $165-million gift from a couple who had long sought to protect the pristine ranchland from development.

The nonprofit Nature Conservancy acquired the Cojo-Jalama Ranches, which comprise roughly 24,000 acres and eight miles of coastline south of Vandenberg Air Force Base, from a New England investment firm, said Michael Bell, director of the conservancy’s California ocean program.

Valued for its sacred sites by the Chumash and operated for more than 100 years as a cattle ranch, the twin parcels straddling Point Conception are a time capsule of oak woodlands, coastal prairies and beaches whose breaks are revered by surfers.

…“Most people think of conservation in terms of the iconic places like Yosemite or the redwood forests or the Grand Canyon,” Jack Dangermond said in an interview. “For us, this oak woodland is the equivalent. It may not be as iconic, but California’s oak forests are just as important ecologically, and there are not many of them left.”

Dangermond said he and his wife first drove this portion of the California coast in 1967 when they were “kids on their honeymoon.”

…The conservancy plans to manage the property, Bell said, in the same way that it manages the land it owns on Santa Cruz Island, where habitat and wildlife are monitored and visitation is limited to research and environmental education programs.


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