Each year thousands of acres of open space and agricultural lands are being converted to other uses. We are addressing this challenge by conserving the irreplaceable landscapes that support our livelihood, our economy, and our spirits. Here’s how: We establish voluntary land protection agreements with family farmers, ranchers, and landowners known as conservation easements. We also buy or receive gifts of land that we then own and manage forever. An essential part of conservation is the perpetual stewardship of protected lands. Taking care of our conservation lands means annual monitoring all of our properties to ensure that they are being treated appropriately and that they continue to benefit people and wildlife.
Our Land Conservation Program has permanently protected over 14,000 acres of land in San Luis Obispo County, leveraged collaborative partnerships to bring millions of dollars into our county, prioritized the protection of sensitive landscapes county-wide, established long-term relationships with over 20 local landowners who maintain conservation properties, and developed a reputation for implementing conservation projects that benefit landowners, community members, and wildlife.
Often times protecting land from development pressure is not enough. Human activities can cause damage to valuable natural resources. As part of what The Land Conservancy’s calls “complete conservation” we work to restore the ecological health and function of lands that have been damaged. Our restoration program addresses challenges both on the lands that we own and on privately owned lands with interested landowners.
Our Restoration Program has planted more than 60,000 native trees and shrubs, repaired 5 miles of stream banks, removed 11 barriers to fish passage, restored a wetland complex, removed invasive species from hundreds of acres in the Dunes, and restored San Luis Obispo’s historic Octagon Barn.
The Land Conservancy plays a critical role in providing meaningful opportunities for people to explore, enjoy, and learn from San Luis Obispo County’s unique landscapes. In addition to our on-going volunteer activities, informational events, and property hikes, we support multiple educational programs and special projects.
Learning Among the Oaks – We are cultivating the next generation of conservationists through a unique K-6 outdoor science education program that benefits Santa Margarita Elementary School youth, teachers, and families. Each year our staff, interns, and volunteers teach science concepts and conservation values to hundreds of students at a nature trail that was established next to the school at Santa Margarita Ranch.
Academic Internships – We host formal internships to train students as part of their academic experience and to develop professionals with real-world skills unique to our industry.
Octagon Barn Center – We are working to open this historic site for public enjoyment and to educate visitors about local land conservation, history, and agriculture.
Our Community Connections Program engages over 1,500 members and nearly 1,000 volunteers each year. Together we have created a local conservation ethic which has grown to involve partners of diverse political, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. The growth of this movement has led to the creation of other nonprofit groups such as the Port San Luis Lighthouse Keepers and the Cayucos Land Conservancy. We aim to instill lasting support for local land conservation amongst a majority of San Luis Obispo County residents.