Pismo Preserve Ready to Move Forward on Construction,
Honoring a Sacred Coastal Place
The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County has secured all permits for the Pismo Preserve parking lot and visitor serving amenities and is working with R. Burke Corporation and Precision Building Group to build the project, which will begin in summer 2018, once funding is secured.
Following the purchase of the Pismo Preserve in 2014, The Land Conservancy immediately set to work designing and securing the necessary permits to construct the amenities required to open the Preserve to the public. However, a significant re-design of the parking lot area was required after preliminary archaeological work revealed an extensive and previously unrecorded Northern Chumash cemetery on the Preserve property.
From the onset, The Land Conservancy worked closely with the Chumash to honor their ancient and on-going spiritual relationship to the land. When the true magnitude of the project site’s significance was revealed, a collaborative re-design was undertaken to avoid disturbing the cemetery and to balance the need for cultural resource protection across the rest of the site with the regulatory environment and the needs of visitors to access and enjoy the Preserve.
“When The Land Conservancy purchased the property, we were unaware that a portion of the project site contained a Northern Chumash cemetery. As with any culturally important landscape, the planning and implementation of trails, grazing and wildlife management, and access areas/parking areas, took on new meaning and complexity.” – Kaila Dettman, Executive Director.
“This remarkable finding confirms what an exceptional place the Pismo Preserve has always been. The community effort and support to preserve this incredible property has not only protected the backdrop of Pismo Beach and created a new public open space, but it has protected a sacred place to the Northern Chumash Tribe, who have lived along the Central Coast for thousands of years.” – Brooke Langle, Board President and volunteer.
Mona Olivas Tucker, Chair of yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region, said “The creation of the Pismo Preserve gives us the opportunity to return to this important place and to participate in its protection. In doing so, it is our goal that this area will be respected by all.”
To ensure safe and enjoyable access to the Preserve, the final permitted project will consist of improvements to Mattie Road including a sidewalk; widening of the entrance; and the construction of several retaining walls, a picnic area, restroom facilities, bike racks, and a paved accessible trail along the lower terrace of the Preserve. The parking lot will have a total of 54 parking spots, including some designed for people with limited mobility, motorcycles, and truck and horse trailer rigs.
The actual timeline for completion is dependent on funding the remaining $3.9 million of $17 million total (includes the purchase of the land) needed to complete the project and open the Pismo Preserve to the public. The Land Conservancy expects to receive help from State and local agencies, including the City of Pismo Beach, but is also relying heavily on gifts from local businesses and individuals. People who are interested in helping bring this project to fruition can contact The Land Conservancy office directly.
Access to the Preserve will be limited starting in summer due to construction activity in the parking area. Once completed, walkers, hikers, bikers, and equestrians will be able to enjoy the Pismo Preserve from sunrise until an hour after sunset, seven days a week.
Although recreational access has been limited during the design process, thousands of people have enjoyed the property, exploring the 11-mile trail system through docent-led hikes and mountain bike rides. Starting in June 2017, a series of “Discovery Days” allowed hikers and bikers to explore the trail system without a docent guide on scheduled open access days.
Pismo Preserve Trail Map
Please Note: Access to the Pismo Preserve is allowed ONLY during docent-led hikes, bike rides, runs, and horse rides. Click Here to view our Events Calendar. Simply click on a docent-led hike to sign up.
The Land Conservancy Team is working as quickly as possible to accomplish the many requirements necessary to full open the Pismo Preserve. Thank You for your continued patience and support!
All Pismo Preserve docent-led hikes, mountain bike rides and equestrian rides are now open to all members of the general public, in addition to LCSLO and CCCMB members. If you are interested in attending a docent-led event at the Preserve please visit our Events Calendar.
News For Immediate Release
The following Press Release was sent to local media outlets and our membership base on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.
The Land Conservancy announces timeline and budget for construction of public amenities for Pismo Preserve; the organization plans to implement a phased opening.
The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County has updated the forecasted timeline and budget for construction of park facilities for the full opening of Pismo Preserve, officials announced today.
The Land Conservancy originally planned for a fall 2016 opening but during the design and environmental clearance process unanticipated requirements were revealed, thus raising the cost of the project and increasing the time required to complete it. In addition, offers for in-kind services to help with the construction have not yet come to fruition.
The Land Conservancy now estimates a late 2018 completion date for full build out of park amenities including parking, restrooms, and an ADA-accessible trail. The project is expected to cost an estimated $4.8 million to complete; significantly more than was expected at the start of the design process. This is in addition to the $12 million already raised for completing the purchase of the property in 2014. Funding sources are expected to include state and local government grants, family foundations, and in-kind services from contractors and suppliers.
During the last two years The Land Conservancy’s planning team, agency reviewers and staff have worked together to re-design the plans for the parking lots, restrooms, and other infrastructure in response to City, Cal Fire and County code requirements that ensure the public’s safety, and to accommodate fragile cultural resources that were found on site.
While the plans were being refined, great progress was achieved on other fronts. The Minor Use Permit and Coastal Development Permit were approved; over 230 volunteers finished a phenomenal network of 11 miles of new trails; and a brand new volunteer docent program was created this spring, setting the foundation for docent-led hikes and mountain bike rides. Many exciting milestones have been reached, but the Preserve is not yet ready for full and open public use.
“The Preserve is a very special property, and it’s important that we treat it carefully, both from an environmental and historical perspective,” says Kaila Dettman, The Land Conservancy’s Executive Director. “While The Land Conservancy would love to open the Preserve tomorrow, we have an obligation to all stakeholders to do this right, and we will not proceed with a project that does not meet the needs of the community, the needs of the land, and the requirements of environmental law. Most importantly, we must construct amenities that protect the safety of our visitors. There are no shortcuts to creating and operating a park that is safe, sustainable, and sensational for all.”
Since the full opening will take longer than expected, The Land Conservancy is working with agency partners to open the property for public use in phases. Pre-scheduled docent led tours, hikes, and equestrian and mountain bike rides will be open to the general public by the end of 2016. The Land Conservancy will then host occasional “open days” starting as soon as spring 2017 where visitors can register, sign in at the entrance, explore the Preserve without a docent, and sign out when leaving. Until then, the Preserve is only open to visitors on docent-led hikes, equestrian rides, and mountain bike rides.
“We recognize that our community is anxious to explore and experience the property. In an effort to give people opportunities to enjoy the Preserve during the construction phase, we are working with our agency partners to allow structured access while we push forward to construct the park amenities,” Dettman said.
The following must be completed before the Pismo Preserve can be fully open to the public:
- For safe ingress and egress, and per Pismo Beach city code, The Land Conservancy must construct a sidewalk and retaining wall that facilitates safe pedestrian and bicyclist access from the 101 freeway interchange along Mattie Road to the entrance at the Preserve.
- Implementation of a management plan to protect fragile cultural resources.
- The installation of two parking lots to avoid impacts to local neighborhoods, prevent erosion, and expedite the movement of first responders in the event of injuries, fire or other emergencies.
- Construction of a one-mile ADA-accessible trail so that people of all physical abilities can enjoy the Preserve.
- Construction of water-efficient restrooms with sufficient capacity to accommodate the expected number of visitors on a daily basis.
- Installation of directional signage and maps for visitor safety and emergency response.
Docent-led tours and hikes would not be possible without the extraordinary work of the volunteers who completed the new trails. “Our volunteers have been phenomenal,” Dettman said. “The trails are first-class, and really reflect our volunteers’ passion and commitment for this land. They have been extraordinarily generous with their time and their hard work.”
For now, docent-led hikes and mountain bike rides are offered once to twice per week for Land Conservancy members. Anyone can join and any donation makes a person a member for one year. Memberships are tax deductible.
CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE VIDEO OF THIS AMAZING PROPERTY.
The Pismo Preserve is located just northeast of the incorporated City of Pismo Beach, in San Luis Obispo County. The property is highly visible and easily accessible from scenic Highway 101 and Price Canyon Road. This is private property with no trespassing until the Preserve is open to the public.
At over 900 acres, the Pismo Preserve offers truly exceptional and diverse recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors will enjoy over 10 miles of existing ranch roads and trails that meander throughout the property offering ready-to-use routes ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. These trails traverse serene oak woodlands and coastal ridgelines with stunning panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean stretching from the Irish Hills to Point Sal.
Located just off California’s scenic Highway 101, existing access off Mattie Road provides an ideal location to establish visitor parking with ample room for horse trailers. Additionally, trails on the Pismo Preserve will provide connections to and from several major hiking and biking trails.
In addition to myriad recreational opportunities, the picturesque Pismo Preserve boasts a diverse array of plant communities. The western edge of the ranch is composed of rolling annual grasslands and coastal scrub. These communities give way to maritime chaparral along the southern slopes, while dense coast live oak woodlands cover the steep canyons and north facing hillsides. Majestic sycamore and willow riparian corridors wind through lowlands and a wide floodplain along Thousand Hills Road and Price Canyon.
Streams that flow through the preserve, including Pismo Creek, provide natural habitats that are vital for the protection of sensitive species. Federally threatened South-Central California Coast Steelhead, federally endangered California red-legged frog, and numerous species of concern including the southwestern pond turtle, have all been identified on the preserve.
The acquisition of Pismo Preserve will allow The Land Conservancy to protect and enhance these natural resources through conservation and restoration efforts which ensures refuge for sensitive species such as these, far into the future.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: DONATE OR VOLUNTEER
The Pismo Preserve has been purchased, but we will continue to raise funds for future phases towards the Preserve as well as other projects like this that will permanently conserve the natural resources on the property and will significantly reduce current and future development thereby preserving the natural and rural character of the Central Coast. Connecting the community to disappearing places like this also provides exciting opportunities for education and interpretation.
You can make a donation here or mail in your donation to us at LCSLO, PO Box 12206, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.
For volunteer opportunities and updates, sign up for The Land Conservancy’s e-newsletter here or follow us on Facebook.