I was raised in a small town outside of Santa Cruz, California, on a 10- acre piece of land bordered by a county park with 350 acres of pristine open space including redwood groves, oak woodlands and mountain meadows. I guess one could say I was a lucky kid, only I didn’t realize it at the time. Growing up, I thought that all children had the same opportunities that I did, the same chance to explore the outside world, and a similar understanding of where food is produced and grown. I thought every family went hiking on the weekends, or shopping for their dinner at the local farmer’s market. As I grew up and my awareness of the world around me expanded, I realized that a lot of kids didn’t have those same opportunities. I realized the opportunities for others to experience childhood the way I had were shrinking.
I was a lucky kid and it is tempting to think of the people of San Luis Obispo County as lucky too; many of the opportunities I mentioned exist for us, and our county is still relatively open, free, and unspoiled. But we have made our own luck. Through the work of this organization, and many others like it, there are special places in this county that are protected, forever. Our accomplishments are cause to celebrate, but our work is not done. Similar to my perspective as a kid, it can be hard to see the threat. When our worldview is rosy, it can be difficult to imagine it any other way. San Luis Obispo County, like all other places in the world, is changing and will continue to change. This year we will embark on our new Strategic Plan, focused on our guiding theme of Conserve, Care, and Connect.
The wild places that educate and inspire us, the land that fuels our tourism and agriculture economy, and the water, soil and air that sustain us, are vulnerable to change.
The projects we are working on right now will double our land holdings within the next five years. We are in the early stages of acquiring a conservation easement over an 8,300-acre ranch in North County. We are hard at work restoring our local streams and enhancing sensitive habitat in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. We plan to achieve accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance next year, ensuring our place as a sustainable and accountable land trust. And we have received a catalyst grant for a conservation park at Kathleen’s Canyon Overlook. These efforts are among our many contributions to this community. These projects represent our commitment to providing opportunities for our children, and to supporting local jobs and families.
No matter what political affiliation we have, no matter what paradigms we hold, no matter how different and diverse we may seem, we are all connected by the land that sustains us. I would like to thank each and every member and project partner for your steady support of our organization. But I also hope to inspire you to do more. Take the time to encourage a child to run free through an oak woodland. Take visitors to one of our local trails and motivate them to give to their local land trust back home. Shop at your local farmer’s market or go to dinner at a restaurant that serves locally grown food. And of course, tell your friends about our organization so that we can expand our network of support and ensure that The Land Conservancy will continue its great work.
(Photo caption: Kaila and her father observe nature in an outdoor setting.)