A National Seashore is one of a dozen categories of National Park. The designation, in itself, will not prevent development and involuntary condemnation will not be used to acquire land. A National Seashore designation would establish sufficient public interest to justify using public and private funds to acquire land and easements. As a result, private landowners would find a ready market for their land, when and if they wish to sell it. A National Seashore would protect the coastal environment and wildlife habitats of the Santa Barbara County Coast. It would increase recreational opportunities and beach access for County residents and visitors alike.
Early in its formative stages, the Conservancy adopted a goal of obtaining a national protective designation such as a national seashore for the Gaviota Coast. In pursuit of this goal, the Conservancy solicited the involvement of NPS and encouraged the support of local, state and federal legislators. In addition, the Conservancy raised cost-sharing funds in the amount of $75,000 to help facilitate the study, and through a partnership with the Sierra Club, created enormous local support for an NPS study. In response to this local effort, in their preliminary assessment of the Gaviota Coast, the NPS selected the Gaviota Coast as one of their "new area studies" in their 2000 budget.
In April of 2003, the Park Service published their draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment of the Gaviota Coast (see link at the bottom of this page). The Study found that the natural and cultural resources of the area are "nationally significant" and "suitable for inclusion" in the National Park System. However, the Study concluded that the area is "not a feasible addition" to the National Park Service, because: 1) "Land sufficient for the establishment of a national park unit does not appear to be available to the NPS"; 2) "It is unlikely, due to strong opposition expressed by study area landowners, that efficient park development and management could occur"; and 3) within the context of the commitments of the President, Secretary of the Interior, and Director of the NPS to address other national financial priorities, the NPS is not able to undertake new land acquisition and management responsibilities of this potential cost and magnitude." (See page 74 of the Study.)
While the Conservancy disagrees with the conclusions of the feasibility analysis, because more than 5,000 acres of high priority properties are currently for sale, and not all landowners oppose a federal designation, it recognizes that current federal priorities preclude a National Park Service designation at this time.
The conclusions of the feasibility analysis reduced the alternatives analysis to:
1. "Continuation of Current Programs and Policies." This is the "no action" alternative for this Study, and assumes that current programs, policies, conditions and trends would continue.
2. "Enhanced Local and State Management." This alternative provides a menu of programs and tools that could be pursued by the local community. (See page 84 of the Study.)
The Conservancy strongly supports Alternative 2, which is identified in the Study as the environmentally preferred alternative. "The NPS will identify a preferred alternative in the final EA (environmental assessment) after analyzing public and agency responses to the draft alternatives." (See page 165 of the Study.)
NPS FEASIBILITY STUDY BUSH ADMINISTRATION TURNS ITS BACK ON THE GAVIOTA COAST!
Transmittal letter from Department of the Interior to Congress
GCC news doc
Gaviota Coast Conservancy News Release
o Errata and Summary of Public Comments and Responses
o Draft Gaviota Coast Feasibility Study, as published in April, 2003