Gaviota Coast Conservancy is dedicated to protecting the rural character and environmental integrity of the Gaviota Coast for present and future generations


Gaviota: The End of Southern California


The Gaviota Coast, located in southern Santa Barbara County, includes the coastal watersheds between Coal Oil Point in Goleta, to Point Arguello on Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the remainder of Vandenberg's coast to Point Sal. The portion down-coast of Point Conception constitutes about 15% of Southern California's coast, yet contains approximately 50% of its remaining rural coastline.

The integrity of the Gaviota Coast is threatened by urbanization, rural McMansions and industrial development. Currently, ranches on the eastern Gaviota Coast are proposing residential developments with massive homes adjacent to sensitive habitat, sacred sites and on top of well-used coastal access trails. The County is proposing to build Costco-sized buildings on top of a landfill they operate in a small coastal canyon (Tajiguas), substantially increasing truck traffic through the Gaviota Coast. Four offshore platforms are linked to two oil processing plants by an array of oil and gas pipelines, one of which caused the devastating Refugio Oil Spill on May 19, 2015; Thanks in part to the shutdown of corroded oil pipelines, Venoco has declared bankruptcy and has returned all of its leases to the State. Platform Holly will be decommissioned and removed in coming years, and its Ellwood onshore processing facility (located in the City of Goleta) will be removed and cleaned up. 

To meet these challenges and preserve our coastal heritage, the Gaviota Coast Conservancy is dedicated to long-term strategies to permanently protect the Gaviota Coast.  Sign in and subscribe to notifications to hear about upcoming hearings, events, and opportunities. Contribute what you can to help us protect the Gaviota Coast, and thank you!

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    Gaviota Coast Conservancy Membership

    Your tax-deductible donation (or monthly recurring donation of $4 or more) enrolls you for one year as a Gaviota Coast Conservancy Member, with special status and opportunities, including:

    • invites to exclusive Gaviota hikes and adventures
    • advocacy updates
    • our biannual Coastlines newsletter
    • members-only event invites
    • and especially a stronger Gaviota Coast Conservancy to better protect our beautiful and unique coastline
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    Join Gaviota Coast Conservancy

    and help us continue to preserve our beautiful coastline and watersheds

    Sign in on the sidebar with email, Facebook or Twitter or Join our list to receive our emails. We send emails about once a month and ONLY share the list with Naples Coalition, an allied organization that focuses specifically on the Naples region of the Gaviota Coast. We send our biannual newsletter Coastlines in the Spring and Fall.

    Volunteer to build community support around the issues affecting the Gaviota Coast. Or call Janet Koed, (805) 683-6631.

    Donate to Gaviota Coast Conservancy. We are a volunteer organization that relies upon public support to continue our work. We cannot defend our coastal heritage without broad based community involvement. Please be generous, and thanks.

    Become a Member of Gaviota Coast Conservancy! For $50 your one-year membership includes exclusive members-only events and opportunities like hikes, adventures and parties, and advocacy updates, as well as our biannual newsletter, Coastlines

    Visit the Gaviota Coast! Be docents (to find out how, ask Janet). Use the access that we're fighting to maintain!

    Take pictures of your visits, and share them with us here.

    Help us document your Gaviota usage by filling out this quick online survey. To let us know which specific areas you visit, please click here. For more dedicated users, please fill out, sign, and mail us this print survey (please mail to: Gaviota Survey, PO Box 92233, Santa Barbara, California 93190)

    Attend Events by checking the Gaviota Coast Conservancy Event Calendar for dates and details of upcoming activities.

    Thank you for all you do!

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    Gaviota Conserved

    Happy holidays for the Gaviota Coast:

    The Cojo-Jalama Ranch (Bixby Ranch) goes to the Nature Conservancy

     

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    Illegal grading on the Bixby Ranch photographed by Gaviota Coast Conservancy former president Mike Lunsford

    In a stunning development, The Nature Conservancy has announced that it has acquired the 24,364-acre Cojo-Jalama Ranch, aka Bixby Ranch. Cojo-Jalama Ranch surrounds Point Conception, extending from Jalama County Park to near the western boundary of Hollister Ranch. Ownership by The Nature Conservancy eliminates threats of the conversion of this historic property for residential development, oil extraction or mineral development.

    “Cojo-Jalama Ranch is one of the crown jewels of the Gaviota Coast!” exclaimed Gaviota Coast Conservancy President Michael S. Brown. “Preservation of the Cojo-Jalama Ranch has long been one of the GCC’s leading goals. Cojo-Jalama is the largest privately owned ranch on the Gaviota Coast, and has faced significant development threats in the past.”

    The Nature Conservancy’s purchase of Cojo-Jalama Ranch was made possible by a single donation of $165 Million by Jack and Laura Dangermond, whose company, Esri, played a major role in developing GIS methodologies. “The generosity of people like the Dangermonds have played a critical role in the preservation of the Gaviota Coast and other threatened coastal lands,” explained Phil McKenna, GCC Past President and Board member (see his recent OpEd in the Santa Barbara Independent on this issue), “GCC applauds their vision and generosity, and invites others to support GCC’s ongoing work to preserve our precious coastline.”

    The Gaviota Coast Conservancy is the only non-governmental organization focused exclusively on the Gaviota Coast. Spanning 76 miles of coastline from Coal Oil Point in Goleta to Point Sal west of Santa Maria, the Gaviota Coast was studied to be a National Seashore in the early 2000’s. The National Park Service found that while the visual, biological and recreational resources made the Gaviota Coast suitable as a National Seashore, but opposition from the George W. Bush Administration and landowners made it infeasible. The 2004 Report suggested local efforts should be undertaken to protect and preserve the Gaviota Coast.

    Cojo-Jalama was adjacent to the site of a proposed LNG plant in the 1970’s, which led to a pitched battle lasting for years. The lands surrounding Point Conception were occupied by protesting Chumash from June 1978 to March 1979 who were dedicated to protecting the area’s spiritual significance as the “Western Gate” in their culture. The LNG plant was never built.

    Cojo-Jalama was subject to a set of Air Force easements restricting uses and development along the western edge of the ranch in designated “debris zones” where development is prohibited to accommodate Space Shuttle launches in the 1980’s. After the Challenger shuttle disaster, the program was curtailed and VAFB never launched a shuttle.

    In 2007, Cojo-Jalama was purchased by Baupost Group, a Boston hedge fund, for the then extraordinary price of $135 Million. Shortly after that, the 2008 Recession deflated the value of the land, and while many rumors of different development projects circulated, no substantial development projects were formally proposed.

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    Point Conception aerial photo by Rich Reid

    Controversy surrounded Cojo-Jalama when Gaviota Coast Conservancy and others uncovered illegal destruction of habitat for the endangered Gaviota Tarplant, leading to a protracted enforcement effort by the California Coastal Commission, which recently adopted an enforcement and Restoration Order, finally resolving the violations.

    Baupost agreed to restore over 500 acres of habitat, pay $500,000 in fines to the Commission’s enforcement account, and offer to donate 36 acres of land adjacent to Jalama County Park to the Santa Barbara County Parks Department.

    Gaviota Coast Conservancy has closely monitored Cojo-Jalama for decades, as it is among the most significant ranches on the Gaviota Coast. GCC applauds The Nature Conservancy’s acquisition of the property and expects that this could eventually result in public access to Point Conception, allowing the public to enjoy the 1985-era County recreational use easements on parcels near Point Conception.

    Michael S. Brown, GCC’s President stated, “Preservation of Cojo-Jalama Ranch is an enormous achievement. While numerous development schemes have been put forward over the last few decades, none have succeeded. Conservation ownership with public access is the best possible outcome we could imagine. We look forward to working with The Nature Conservancy as they develop their management, restoration and access plans for Cojo-Jalama Ranch, one of the crown jewels of the Gaviota Coast.”

    Happy holidays, with this amazing gift! Despite fires and power outages, our work at Gaviota Coast Conservancy continues until the rural character of the Coast is permanently preserved.

    You can keep this work alive by contributing to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy. GCC has been selected for SB Gives!, a new year-end fundraising program sponsored by The Fund for Santa Barbara and The Santa Barbara Independent for nonprofits serving Santa Barbara County. Your contribution by December 31 will help us secure additional funds through SB Gives! matching grants.

    On behalf of the board and staff of Gaviota Coast Conservancy, thank you to our community, supporters, friends and allies, and especially to Jack and Laura Dangermond and the Nature Conservancy for this bold conservation of our beloved coast.

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