Land Conservation

Since 1984, The Land Conservancy has protected 38,000 acres in and around San Luis Obispo County. Many of these lands are owned by families that have lived on and cared for the land for generations. We also own and manage multiple preserves, including the Pismo Preserve, Black Lake Canyon Ecological Area, Lower San Luis Obispo Creek Floodplain Preserve, Santa Rita Ranch, and others. These protected places each represent the character of San Luis Obispo County. Land conservation is only possible thanks to deep partnerships and commitment from landowners, members, and volunteers that share a vision for the future of our county.

How is land conserved?

As an accredited land trust, The Land Conservancy most often conserves land through conservation easements or the purchase of lands, known as fee-title acquisitions. We also partner with other organizations and landowners throughout the county to support other conservation efforts, methods, and opportunities. 

Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are voluntary agreements between a land trust and a landowner that permanently restrict future land use on a particular property.  These restrictions benefit certain conservation values which are often inherent – scenic views, fresh water, productive farmland and rangeland, wildlife habitat, rare plants and animals, and more. Some conservation easements focus on just one or two of these important values. However, most Land Conservancy easements protect a wide variety of conservation values thanks to our diverse landscapes.

These agreements:

• Are voluntary – we only work with landowners that want to work with us

• Run with the land – conservation easements are permanent

• Continue to be owned and managed by the landowner

• Can allow for continued land use, such as ranching, farming, or family homesteads

• Are tailored to needs of the land and goals of the landowner – no two easements are alike

Fee-Owned Lands

The Land Conservancy also acquires and owns conservation properties. These are known as fee-owned properties. The purpose of acquiring fee title to certain properties are often similar to that of conservation easements – to permanently protect important landscapes in our county. However, conservation easements area not always an option. Sometimes land is simply for sale on the open market, and The Land Conservancy will act to to acquire and protect those lands under our ownership. Other times, we have specific goals that are best met by owning the land – such as opening new open spaces for recreation or completing complex habitat restoration projects. 

Fee-Owned Lands:

• Are acquired and owned by The Land Conservancy

• Involve long-term restoration projects to improve habitat, water resources, and remove non-native invasive plants

• Receive permanent protection under our ownership 

• Are managed to conserve and enhance a wide variety conservation values

• Often involve praetorships with farmers, ranchers, and land managers