Open space lands are necessary for agricultural production, wildlife protection, and aesthetic enjoyment. Despite evidence that these places are essential for healthy and productive societies, across the nation development trends are causing open spaces to disappear at a rapid rate. Since many agricultural areas in San Luis Obispo County have remained under family ownership for multiple generations, these open lands have ancestral significance as well.

With 189 acres of rich soil, diverse wildlife, and vast coast live oak trees, O’Connor Ranch exemplifies the scenic beauty and agricultural productivity of San Luis Obispo County lands. The natural features of the property are emblematic of Los Osos Valley, including a portion of Cerro Romauldo, one of the nine volcanic peaks and hills that form a chain called the Morros (also known as the Nine Sisters) between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.

Ranch owners Joseph and Mary Lindsey were struggling to keep the property financially viable and wanted to see the land protected for both their kids and grandkids to come. Through a funded conservation easement with the Land Conservancy, Joseph and Mary were able to continue working the land through managed cattle grazing and a modest orchard. They retired the property’s development potential in order to permanently protect their family’s way of life and their community’s quality of life.

“Our kids were in their early teens when we bought the place. They each have their ‘favorite’ place on the hill. When we’re gone from here, they will always know there isn’t going to be a building on their favorite place. The beautiful oak stand will go untouched, and the views and the quiet will remain for everyone.” Joseph Lindsey, Ranch Owner

The protection of O’Connor Ranch was the result of a collaborative funding partnership between the City of San Luis Obispo Natural Resources Program, the Land Conservancy, Camp San Luis Obispo, and the National Guard which resulted in win-win results for all stakeholders involved. Camp San Luis Obispo gained a property buffer to continue its training operations, the landowners were fairly compensated for voluntarily selling development rights on their private property, and the community benefits from protected lands that provide fresh water, clean air and local food.

O’Conner Ranch Project Highlights

  • Conserves 189 acres of productive ranch lands
  • Protects a major portion of Cerro Remouldo in the Morros
  • Expands the City of San Luis Obispo “Greenbelt”
  • Preserves Scenic open space, groves of Coast Live Oak trees, and wildlife habitat
  • Prohibits future development
  • Provides for recreational guided hikes through The Land Conservancy

Project Funding Partners

  • National Guard Bureau, Army Compatible Use Buffer Program
  • Camp San Luis Obispo
  • City of San Luis Obispo, Natural Resources Program

O’Connor Ranch is private property, but the Land Conservancy hosts guided hikes for its members. Check the events page to join us for an upcoming land tour.