(From the Feb. 12 article in the SB Independent by Matt Ketteman): Should a 3,500-acre Gaviota Coast ranch be allowed to reconfigure in a way that would open the door for a handful of new oceanfront homes while also dedicating trails and a parking lot for the public to use? That’s what the Doheny family is seeking to do with their Las Varas Ranch, which is located just east of El Capitan State Beach. But they’re running into a wall of conservationists, who’ve strived for years to keep the stretch of coast undeveloped, and public-access advocates, who don’t think the proposed trails are good enough. The nearly decade-old proposal is scheduled to come before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on February 17, when the Supes could accept the environmental review as is or order deeper analysis of the impacts to farming and recreation.
On January 24, friends and I took a hike up on the Gaviota Coast. The Bill Wallace trailhead is at the El Capitan Canyon Resort’s Ocean Meadows campground (pets are not allowed on this trail). Well, actually the parking lot is just BEFORE you go into the gate to the campground. We did a short loop of about 4 miles and the views were SPECTACULAR, especially because we followed the signs that read “hard” rather than the “easy” routes. Resting in the iridescent green fields we watched the beautiful sets of waves roll in, one point after another, from Coal Oil Point almost to Refugio. San Miguel Island, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa all saluted us. Gaviota Peak dared us to push ourselves harder. This was enough amazing beauty for one day. The word “WOW” was way overused. I recommend this hike for a reminder of why we need to save these treasures. Remember that many volunteers spend endless hours protecting this place. Thank you. I am also grateful for the farmers and ranchers who work hard to preserve a rural way of life on the Gaviota Coast.