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Deal insures a 24,000 acre Central Coast nature preserve is permanently protected from development

The Dangermond Preserve includes more than 24,000 acres of land in Santa Barbara County, including eight miles of coastline in the Point Conception area.
The Nature Conservancy
The Dangermond Preserve includes more than 24,000 acres of land in Santa Barbara County, including eight miles of coastline in the Point Conception area.

The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, The Nature Conservancy, and the Department of Defense teamed up to add protections to the Dangermond Preserve.

It’s one of most unique undeveloped chunks of coastal land in the nation, and it’s right here, in the Tri-Counties. For decades, there have been different proposals to develop chunks of the property in central Santa Barbara County. Now, this little known environmental gem is getting new protection, which will insure it will remain untouched forever.

"The Dangermond Preserve is an extraordinary conservation landscape on the Gaviota Coast," said Mark Reynolds, who is Director of the Point Conception Institute at Dangermond Preserve.

"It's 24,000 acres at Point Conception, and it really straddles the elbow of California, so it has coastline which faces both the Santa Barbara Channel, and the Pacific Ocean side. It's a globally significant area for conservation, because of the biodiversity, and the ecological confluence between Northern and Southern California," Reynolds added.

It's home to a number for rare species of plants and animals.

In 2017, Jack and Laura Dangermond donated $165 million to The Nature Conservancy to buy, and protect the land. But now, a new partnership has taken the an extra step. It’s moved to preserve it from development forever, by establishing what’s known as a conservation easement.

"A conservation easement is a permanent contract that's recorded on the title of the property that runs with the land forever that extinguishes subdivision, and inappropriate development." said Meredith Hendricks, the Executive Director of the Land Trust For Santa Barbara County.

Hendricks said the Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Defense Department partnered for the deal. The Pentagon has a special fund which allows for the purchase of land near military facilities. It put up the $15 million to create the easement. The idea is to keep the land as open space, so you don’t have houses, or apartments adjacent to a base.

Hendricks said while this land is already a preserve, this is like a long term insurance policy.

Reynolds said it’s also an environmental investment. He said there are numerous studies underway on the preserve, and that some of them may help us develop ways to better manage environmental issues in other places.

The partners feel this is simply too important, and precious of a resource not to do everything possible to insure it will be protected forever.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.