Globally Significant Botanical Resources

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photo by Shaw Leonard

The indigenous botanical resources of the Gaviota Coast include rich and complex associations of plant species and vegetation types that are characteristic of Central Coastal California and also unique to the region. The many landforms of varying ages, origins, and composition; the transition zone between northern and southern biogeographic areas along the California coast at Pt. Conception; and the regional, seasonal, and changing climatic conditions contribute to the formation of a large number of habitats and subsequently a diverse flora.

Broad appreciation for the Gaviota Coast exists not only because of the region’s varied landscape, rich biological diversity, and unique natural heritage, but also because of the goods and services provided to its residents and visitors that contribute to the special nature of the region. The Gaviota Coast provides a distinct sense of place and it is of major importance as a natural classroom for all levels of training and investigation. Conservation of the natural heritage, including restoration of its habitats and recovery of sensitive species, is of paramount importance to our quality of life and to that of future generations. Successful stewardship of the region’s natural resources, including maintaining a balance between conservation and utilization of resources, is of global interest and is a significant contribution toward leadership in the conservation of Mediterranean-climate ecosystems in general.     

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We Belong in Wild Places

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photo by Shaw Leonard

I was raised in Burbank when the air was thick and the pastures were a distant memory. My father routinely took me to the “wild lands” surrounding the San Fernando Valley, expecially the Santa Monica Mountains. I discovered the marvels of geology at the top of a ridge with an ocean view, where my father showed me the fossils embedded in rocks we were sitting on and described the forces that created our perch. We discovered a mountain lion long after it had perceived us; the reality of a lion in our domain thrilled me then and now. My father showed me tadpoles in the creek and we visited them pond for a month observing the transformation to frog. I learned the value of patient observation.

So I was a city boy, but because I had access to natural landscapes (and a wonderful teacher), I became an armchair naturalist. I camped, fished, hiked, biked, and learned to marvel at the common and ordinary.

I have passed on my father’s gift to me by introducing my children to the natural world and I advocate for public access to that natural world so the same opportunity is not lost to others. Without the direct experience of nature one is a “tenant” on earth, without pride of ownership; a poor steward of our fragile home. So I will argue for the broadest possible public access to the Gaviota region, consistent with the preservation and restoration of our natural heritage. And there is the rub. 

We are part of nature. We belong in wild landscapes, be we change them. The vision of a static nature, pure in form, finished and complete, is a myth. We bring many of the trappings of society with us when we enter uncivilized landscapes. This is perceived as being negative, and it sometimes is. But, we can contribute to the preservation of nature through our understanding of the living earth, gained best from direct experience.

Citizens of our complex and increasingly crowded society are divorced from the natural processes that support them. It is quite possible to intellectually understand these forces. However, that understanding is incomplete without the imprint of direct experience. Appropriate public access provides the stage for this direct experience.

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New Naples Investors

‘Mythical Being’ Wants Naples

Chinese-American Investor David Liu Eying Prized Gaviota Property

 According to the recent story in the Santa Barbara Independent (Feb. 26, 2015), "The long-dormant fight to carve 1,000 acres of breathtaking Gaviota real estate along both sides of Highway 101 into 72 parcels ​— ​a k a the Naples Project ​— ​just woke up. Matt Osgood, whose bankruptcy in 2010 put the development of Santa Barbara Ranch into a state of suspended agitation, is back, hoping to revive his old project with a new ownership structure. Osgood and his brother Mark, a real estate investor, enticed Chinese-American investor David Liu of Arcadia to buy the Naples property for $44.5 million."

According to Gaviota Coast Conservancy board president Phil McKenna, "The Conservancy will continue its opposition to inappropriate residential estate development on the Gaviota Coast. A large tract of over-sized houses is antithetical to our objective of preserving the rural character of the Coast. This has been our position since 1998 and we will continue to actively promote it."

Here's a history of the contentious Naples area from articles in the Santa Barbara Independent. 

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