For several Years, Gaviota Coast Conservancy has been in charge of trash pickup on Refugio State Beach on Coastal Cleanup Day. In so many ways, this year is different. We are encouraged to go visit our favorite beaches, pick up trash and avoid crowds. And so, I set out with a friend or three each week to do my part.
DAY 1: First, I was invited to sail to Santa Cruz Island with Rich and Jane. This was not necessarily a trash reconnaissance. We had our eyes focused on looking for whales, dolphins and other ships as we navigated in and out of the fog. Seas were calm and glassy. “What is that up ahead?”, I asked. “it looks like a buoy” Jane replied. “But what’s it doing way out here?” Rich said he thought it was a bird. As we got closer, we realized the object was neither a buoy nor a bird. It was a bundle of mylar balloons! Aha, trash! Captain Rich steered toward the plastic discards and handed me the buoy hook. Alas, we fetched the unicorn-embellished balloons out of the ocean. Hopefully, we prevented a seabird or mammal from getting tangled up in someone’s celebration. Ocean trash is not only unsightly but can be dangerous to sea life. And yes, we did get to see pods of those playful dolphins and a majestic blue whale on that trip.
Photo Courtesy of Janet Koed
DAY 2: It being a whole month of Coastal Cleanup, I set out with Jane on our kayaks from Goleta Beach on Labor Day weekend. Knowing we could not stop and linger on this holiday because beaches were only open for those activities that keep your person in motion, we paddled up the coast. The search was ON for tidbits of plastic and other manufactured discards that did not benefit birds and sea life. Those Explore Ecology kids must have been there before us as pickings were slim.
Cleanup via Kayak
Photo Courtesy of Janet Koed
DAY 3: The next Coastal Cleanup session took Kris, Sally, Nancy and me to Naples Beach even though we suspected there might not be much trash. This stretch of Gaviota Coast is more remote where the occasional visitors tend to respect the pristine nature here. It was an opportunity to take in some beautiful scenery, jump in the water and check our trash intuition. We hardly found a remnant of undesirable rubble.
Naples Cleanup Crew
Photo Courtesy of Janet Koed
DAY 4: Max, Elizabeth, Dianne and Carell contacted me to enlist in the GCC Volunteer Cleanup Core. We met at Refugio State Beach and headed east and west sweeping the sand for treasure and plastic doubloons. This scenic, well-used beach gave us a sense of purpose. We encountered more rubbish than at the other places we scoured. We also discovered a pretty bush with pink flowers growing out of the side of the cliff. I texted a picture to Dr. Lisa Stratton who identified it as the highly-invasive Tamarix! Perhaps we should go on an invasive plant cleanup one day. Meanwhile, we ended up at Naples again for a picnic on this rewarding day.
Refugio Cleanup Crew
Photo Courtesy of Janet Koed
Photo Courtesy of Janet Koed
Nancy and Rich took trash initiative on themselves at Hendry’s
Nancy and Rich's Cleanup Adventure
Kanji: a Japanese system of writing that utilizes characters borrowed or adapted from Chinese writing also: a single character in the kanji system – Merriam Webster Dictionary
What is “Earth Kanji” and what does that have to do with our beautiful Gaviota Coast? This is a blog post inspired by my adventures and explorations on the Gaviota Coast. I’ve been up in the otherworldly rock and manzanita formations on top of the coast range, all over the Naples ocean bluff, and all the way down along the beach and streams of the coast itself. Every outing brings a thousand new things.
I started viewing and appreciating the Gaviota Coast from both the big vista point of view as well as the “micro” vista point of view. Every big vista is made up of countless micro bits, very like the strokes of paint on a work of art.
One day, walking along the beaches, I noticed that the last tide had washed up and “arranged” many different “pictures” consisting of twigs, or seaweed, or a combination of seaweed and colored stones, etc. When looking at some of these arrangements, I noticed that many of them resembled Japanese and Chinese kanji characters. A kanji character, in a nutshell, is a language character that has a unique meaning in both Japanese and Chinese. I suddenly had fun thinking that each of these arrangements I found on the beach was, perhaps, a way the earth was speaking to me with its own “Earth Kanji” characters. So, I began calling them “Earth Kanji” and taking photos of them. I also noticed that many of these micro arrangements I saw all around me made some of the most beautiful abstracts I had ever seen.
My Introduction to Kanji
On my 14th birthday, my Mother gave me a copy of a book called the Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu. It’s a book of ancient Chinese wisdom. This book was full of lovely old Chinese drawings with these beautiful kanji characters written on the page. The English translation of these fascinating kanji characters was on the facing page. I was so impressed with the “art” of each kanji, that I even made up fake kanji characters on some of my early attempts at painting. Some of my friends asked me where I had learned to write Chinese. Ha!
As I looked down at these arrangements, those old kanji images came to mind. What I was actually looking at was a small group of ocean-worn sticks in an arrangement, one that looked like someone put it together that way on purpose. Then I realized that each of those sticks originated up at the top of the range, fallen from a manzanita, or oak, and washed down one of many streams during a storm, and then was bounced around and cleaned and bleached by the ocean, and then put together by the tide and washed up where I happened to walk that day on the Gaviota Coast. A message just for me – right?
Since then, I have had a LOT of fun, noticing wherever I walk, all different varieties of Earth Kanji and taking photos of them. Of course, there’s no seaweed up on top of the bluffs, or up a hiking trail, but the same kinds of arrangements can be found literally anywhere one looks. Perhaps a kanji photo could consist of colored stones in the bottom of a clear stream pool, or the colored algae on a weathered orange and brown sandstone boulder, or in the nook of a burned manzanita which is half brilliant Indian red, and the other half black and charred from a fire.
A fun fact: Unlike our alphabet that has 26 letters, the Japanese and Chinese kanji systems have 50,000 kanjis! Just imagine a spelling B using kanji. 50,000 separate characters is admittedly a lot to learn, but we all know that the earth has a lot more than 50,000 kanjis. So far, I haven’t run across the same arrangement twice, and I don’t think I ever will. But I have discovered that there is amazing beauty in all the little Earth Kanji bits that make up every large vista on the coast.
To help you visualize an actual Japanese kanji, here is a chart of some common kanji symbols:
Exercising Our Appreciation Muscles
I continually exercise and expand my “appreciation muscles” by appreciating the ten thousand little bits that make up each “big picture” on the Gaviota Coast. It’s like picking out a favorite painting in a museum and then slowly walking up to it, until my eyes are about 5 inches away from the canvas. The big picture disappears and all I can see is a marvelous and intricate scrabbling and scribbling of magic little lines and colors that are fascinating designs in and of themselves. Each of these little scrabbles and scribbles I think of as kanji.
One day, as I was looking at these mini parts that make up the Gaviota Coast, I thought that perhaps the Earth also is using a kind of Earth Kanji to say things to me, unerring and unassailable things of beauty and love and life. As I “read” the kanji below, this is what is said to me:
The moon makes its own meaning,
perhaps, by not asking.
I have asked,
and then, years later,
learned to listen:
Leaves don’t merely rustle
on a still, hot day
full of raucous light,
they say things,
like the moon,
unerring and unassailable,
simply, by not asking.
With the idea of Earth Kanji now firmly set in mind, I went a-hunting and gathering for some more Earth Kanji to “read.” What was the Earth saying to me today, I wondered?
Below is the next Earth Kanji message I found. I’m still working on the translation. Remember, a kanji isn’t just a letter, it’s a thing, or a concept. Maybe you can figure it out?
After a bit of contemplation, I sensed that the first kanji of this message, the kanji made up of the tar and the rock, was the Earth telling me something about slowing down to “smell the beauty”. Slowing down helped me see the rest of the kanji in this particular message of three. After some time quietly sitting on a boulder cradled by a manzanita, I finally deciphered what it was saying to me:
as this vast peace
consumed me, i turned.
i felt your presence,
as if you were a standing oak,
as if the stream,
singing and giving life
was your love, and my love,
as if the single cry of a bird
was all i have ever known of you
I had my lunch and pondered this new way of hearing and seeing the Earth speak to me. Then I remembered that magic trick I learned at the museum, that if I simply walk back a few feet, the big picture, which is made out of all the ten thousand little bits, can be seen. This is what I saw:
the endless going and return;
when the days are this hot,
when the wild grasses are as
much their scent as their form,
we all do reap as we sow.
father, mother, small birds in the sky:
help me to sow myself,
grow me and cut me and grow me
until I am nothing but this red earth
from which I came.
this is my desire.
As it was getting late, and the hot August days were shortening the light, I started back toward home. But I wanted to listen to the Earth tell me one more kanji story before I left. So, I slowly meandered, randomly peeking here and there, until I saw the next kanji message.
Filled with this final message for the day, I drove home to Carpinteria. I felt this particular Earth Kanji message keep circulating and refining itself inside me. This one merged itself into me, telling me something I knew I wanted and needed to hear. But I wanted to be sure I got this one right. I slept on it. First light cleared away the marine layer in my mind:
If you place yourself
exactly who and when you are,
as rain blossoms earth,
love will find itself to you.
Be still as sagebrush,
river, stone, and sky.
Think like them.
Open your eyes to moon
until outside comes in.
It will find itself to you.
No matter if you pray,
or not, speak from heart.
Yearn and live in love.
Become a prayer.
It will find itself to you.
Love finds itself to God,
blood flows through veins,
and tears bloom hearts.
Reside inside of love,
and It will bind itself to you.
A Gaviota Coast Conservancy Invitation
I’m pretty sure that many of you reading this have noticed all of the above on your travels. If so, you know how fun it is, and how it fills you up with beauty. I invite you to pass this great way of listening to, and hearing what the earth has to say to us, to your kids on hikes. Photos with phones are fun, but just seeing these Earth Kanjis is as much fun as taking photos. No camera needed. Maybe you, and / or your children would like to send in a blogpost to the GCC website too. Of course, the Gaviota Coast is a great place to explore. But these days, if it’s too far, don’t let that stop you. After all, the beauty found on the Gaviota Coast can, and should, be found everywhere around us.
Finding Earth Kanjis can be as much fun as searching for shells or driftwood on the beach. And now I look for messages wherever I go. The Earth always answers me.
Paddling Paradise, photo courtesy of Ken Pearson
Imagine stepping out your front door, driving to a nice beach on the Gaviota Coast and launching through the small surf to the glassy waters beyond. Does this sound like a Covid-19 fantasy dream? You can do it in REAL life REAL time! We have figured out a safe way to make this happen. Well, “safe” is a transient word in our vocabularies, these days of pandemic, fire and smoke. Just stepping out our front doors involves some risk. If you’re curious about kayaking with us on the Gaviota Coast, read on.
Kayak Launch at Haskell's Beach, photo courtesy of Ken Pearson
On Saturday, October 3, Santa Barbara Adventure Company is offering a guided paddle from Haskell’s Beach to Driftwoods or Seals and back. They deliver kayaks to the water’s edge and shove us off with all the necessary gear. Their experienced guides will stay with us as we paddle up the coast. If the tide allows, we will land on Seals Beach, talk about Gaviota and the work of Gaviota Coast Conservancy, then head back to Haskell’s. The roundtrip is about four hours.
I have made this trip with another outfitter three times, and can tell you it has always been exciting and magical. Once the surf was a bit larger than the usual rolling curls, but we all got out with the help of our guides. The ride back in was very exciting and a few people fell out of their sit-on-top vessels. Those on shore cheered them on and paddlers came up laughing, no worse off than when they started, but wetter. Another time, the water was extremely glassy and the kelp forests flaunted their magnificence. Dolphins appeared! I was most impressed with an 80-year-old woman’s stories of kayaking in Alaska with her son in years past. Yes, she was paddling with us.
This will be an adventure! Conditions are dictated by Mother Nature. I can tell you it’s a treat to have competent guides deliver all the gear and the safety knowledge they have accumulated with training and experience. I am not a young woman, but I trust these people to get us out there and back in this beautiful place. SB Adventure Co follows procedures for keeping guests distanced and Covid regulated. They instruct all on basic paddling techniques, and help us launch if we want. Call them if you have questions or concerns. Participants should be able to swim, and comfortable in the ocean. Children must be five years or older, and accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Gaviota Coast Conservancy Benefit
Guided Kayak Trip
Cancellation fees apply
At least 50% goes to Gaviota Coast Conservancy
Saturday, Oct. 3, 9:30am to approximately 1:30pm
Registration through SB Adventure Co, call 805-884-9283 or click
Mention that your're with the Gaviota Coast Conservancy trip
See you on the coast!
Sea Kelp! Photo courtesy of Ken Pearson
Gaviota Coast Conservancy Scenic Highway Sign
PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET KOED
When you’re driving up the Gaviota Coast you probably don’t notice much trash along the side of the road. That might be because you’re looking at the majestic mountains, the expansive ocean with its alluring islands, or the dreamy clouded sky. In 2016 Gaviota Coast Conservancy worked to get the Gaviota Coast section of Hwy 101 designated as a California Scenic Highway. This designation affords some protection of viewsheds by establishing them as “Scenic.” GCC has adopted 2 miles of this area as trash pick up guardians. One Saturday a month, you can see two or more Board members out there on the side of the road, with their lime green vests, collecting unwanted discards.
When I heard that Richard Hunt and Warren Powers were on volunteer trash patrol August 29, I decided it was a good time to lend a hand. These folks always have good stories to tell about trash. And besides this allure, Warren offered to take me kayaking at Refugio after our work was done. Off I went to meet them at Farren Road where we would shuttle one car up to Dos Pueblos Canyon Rd.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET KOED
Warren and I head out on the east section of the highway with our “grabber” tools and collection bags. At first, the trash situation looked rather light. As we proceeded up the coast, it became apparent that there were many plastic bottles, fast food cups, black plastic pieces as well as assorted papers like a traffic citation, some home remodel invoices! The abundant black plastic seemed to be parts from old cars or other vehicles. Warren spots a green racer snake we hope is moving toward the foothills rather than the road. Richard and Skyler have sad reports of owl and hawk carcasses, no doubt victims of the highway traffic. Their bags are filled with trash similar to ours.
The prize on our stretch of highway is a dollar bill Warren found. He has a knack for turning trash into treasure so I can’t wait to hear what he does with the money. Next time you hurl something out of the car on the Gaviota Coast, please include donations larger than $1. Most likely, if you’re reading this, you aren’t someone who casts trash out the car window on purpose. You might prefer to make your donation on our website at Gaviota Coast Conservancy
PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET KOED
Our bags are left for Caltrans to pick up and deliver to Tajiguas landfill. Warren fantasizes we might return the trash to the doorsteps of those who tossed it out the window. Our work done, we head for Refugio. The kayaking off Refugio is glorious and we only find one plastic bag out in the ocean. Hurray for only one plastic bag! The dolphins we see appreciate us keeping our human rubbish in the landfill and keeping single use plastics to a bare minimum if we must use them at all.
September happens to be Coastal Cleanup Month and we encourage you to visit your favorite stretch of coastline and bring some trash back with you. We would love to receive photos of you and your trash to post on our website. If you have a good story, please send that too.
Thank you Gaviota volunteers and supporters!
Mike Lunsford & I recently took a walk on the bluff-top west of Refugio State Park, enjoying a beautiful morning. Mike was a founder and long-time President of the Conservancy and as a career State Park ranger on the Gaviota Coast, knows the terrain well.
Mike and his family lived in a doublewide trailer for a number of years on this bluff top about a quarter mile west of Refugio Beach. When we reached the building site of his former home, it was no longer there. It wasn’t a mystery; that section of the 100-foot-tall bluff had simple fallen into the ocean. Mike estimated that about 60 feet of the bluff that supported a deck, the doublewide and a single lane access road, had collapsed into the sea since he and his family had moved into the trailer in 1979. That’s an average of about 1 ½ feet per year. Pretty dynamic for something we think is terra firma.
In the cove at Refugio State Park the palm trees bear additional witness to coastal erosion from storms and climate change. The trees were planted about 1928 and developed into an iconic, some would say exotic, landscape. Early photos of the palms show them planted in alluvial soil adjacent, but removed from the water and sand https://goletahistory.com/the-refugio-palms/.
Today those palms are being swamped by climate change with their toes engulfed in sand and sea water.
Exposed Root Balls
PHOTO COURTESY OF REEVE WOOLPERT ©Reeve Woolpert
The exposed root balls of the trees, higher than my head, were once completely anchored in soil. Palm tree trunks and roots are incredibly fibrous, but the soil that nurtures them is porous, eroding easily given the power of storm surges riding on a rising ocean.
The end result are palms adrift.
Palms in Storm Surge
PHOTO COURTESY OF REEVE WOOLPERT ©Reeve Woolpert
Less dramatic, but equally telling in the tales of land lost on the Gaviota Coast are the government survey markers at Naples (aka Santa Barbara Ranch). The marker below was set on the bluff near the ocean by the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey in 1927. These benchmarks record survey points the government established when they were mapping the country. The benchmarks were set in bunches of three. The “triangulation station” was the precise point being established. Two other “reference marks” (denoted as “RM”) were set with arrows pointing to the triangulation station. If the triangulation station was lost, the reference marks would point to its location. At Naples the triangulation station was lost to bluff erosion.
Survey Markers at Naples
PHOTOS COURTESY OF REEVE WOOLPERT ©Reeve Woolpert
Many thanks to Reeve Woolpert, photographer extraordinaire, who has documented the Gaviota Coast and provided the Conservancy with his images, knowledge, and good cheer for many years. Reeve tells me that the original government survey of the West Coast of the United States was begun in 1850 near Point Conception, a logical place to start measuring the breadth of this land.
A brief introduction to benchmarks can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survey_marker
GAVIOTA COAST CONSERVANCY ACTION ALERT!
You're invited to participate!
WHAT: Board of Supervisors Hearing on GCC’s appeal of Caltrans Gaviota Culvert Project
WHEN: Tuesday September 1, 2020
WHERE: Virtual participation only
CONTACT: Doug Kern, (805) 222-6184; firstname.lastname@example.org
REQUESTED ACTION: Please email the Supervisors at email@example.com, and/or testify remotely at the Board hearing (suggested talking points below). Instructions for virtual participation are listed on the Agenda, which is available at https://santabarbara.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx#current (see page 16, Item 3) along with the hearing materials. Written comments must be submitted by 5pm Monday 8/31 if 1 page or less, or by noon Friday 8/29 if longer than 1 page.
PROJECT OVERVIEW AND KEY ISSUES: Caltrans has requested County approval of a Development Plan, Coastal Development Permit, and Conditional Use Permit, to authorize the replacement of an existing culvert off Highway 101 in the Canada del Barro drainage on park land just east of Gaviota State Beach Park.
CalTrans HWY 101 Gaviota Culvert Project
The portion of Highway 101 where the Project is proposed has an extraordinary level of wildlife-vehicle conflicts, documented by studies done by Dr. Stratton and others of UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity & Ecological Restoration (CCBER) and Dr. Shilling of UC Davis. Caltrans’ own Wildlife Crossings Guidance Manual[i] identifies culvert replacements as an “opportunity to enhance existing rates of crossing and decrease rates of vehicle-animal collisions if the new culverts are larger than the existing culverts and include wildlife ledges, fencing, and vegetation to enhance their use.” However, for the Gaviota Culvert, Caltrans maintains (incorrectly) that there are no wildlife corridors to consider, and has declined to accommodate wildlife crossing in its project, even though they propose habitat restoration that could attract additional wildlife to the area.
Wildlife Deaths near Project Site (Red cluster at bottom of map)
Most of the Project site is zoned for recreation and is currently owned and managed by California State Parks. Several public trail segments exist on or adjacent to the Project site including the proposed California Coastal Trail (CCT) primary alignment along the coastal bluff, and an existing trail segment north of 101. As part of the Project, 5 acres of State Park land will be transferred into Caltrans’ jurisdiction for construction and maintenance access, including over 2 acres of the “Gaviota Village” property. The Gaviota Village property was acquired with funding from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP), Santa Barbara County Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF), and the Goleta Valley Land Trust, and is deed restricted for use as open space, habitat restoration and conservation, and passive recreation including trails. Caltrans has not provided adequate information about the proposed transfer, and has not demonstrated that the Project is authorized on the deed restricted portion. Moreover, Caltrans proposes no recreational amenities or Coastal Trail (CCT) segment to mitigate impacts of the 5-acre loss of state parkland.
California Coastal Trail near Culvert Project site ((just above the words Figure 4.3 lower left)
The environmental review Caltrans conducted for the Project is clearly inadequate. The County must rely on Caltrans’ Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), which was prepared and adopted before the Gaviota Coast Plan was fully implemented in the Coastal Zone and without considering its policies. Since the MND’s adoption, new information of substantial importance including the CCBER and UC Davis wildlife studies and Gaviota Village deed restrictions have come to light and necessitate subsequent environmental review. New mitigation measures/conditions are necessary to reduce the recreational impact of the land transfer out of State Parks jurisdiction, to reduce indirect and cumulative impacts to wildlife, and to achieve consistency with the Gaviota Coast Plan. Additionally proposed off-site mitigation in Refugio Creek is adjacent to a Monarch aggregation site which requires evaluation and mitigation. As a Responsible Agency, the County has a duty to ensure that these environmental impacts are adequately addressed before approving the requested permits.
The Planning Commission approved the Gaviota Culvert Project over the objections of GCC and the Coastal Ranches Conservancy (CRC), downplaying the significance of CCBER’s study and glossing over the land transfer issue. GCC and CRC each appealed the Planning Commission’s approval to the Board of Supervisors, and are asking that the Board uphold our appeal, direct subsequent environmental review, and support Project modifications to accommodate wildlife passage under Highway 101 and passive recreational uses.
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS:
- Caltrans’ Highway 101 facilities have severely impacted Gaviota Coast wildlife including bobcat and deer, which have been recently observed at the mouth of the culvert proposed for removal.
- New expert studies confirm the need to reevaluate the Project’s impacts to wildlife, including whether the proposed habitat restoration activities will attract wildlife and increase wildlife-vehicle collisions.
- The culvert must be redesigned to accommodate wildlife passage as described in Caltrans’ own Wildlife Crossings Guidance Manual.
- Land under the control of State Parks must not be transferred to Caltrans without offsetting mitigation such as provision of a California Coastal Trail (CCT) segment.
- Unless and until State Parks has secured approval to transfer or encumber the Gaviota Village property, the transfer is not permissible and the Project cannot proceed as proposed.
- The Project cannot be approved as proposed due to conflicts with the Gaviota Coast Plan including with recreation policies requiring that existing and proposed trails be preserved and provided for in discretionary development projects, and policies protecting sensitive wildlife and wildlife corridors.
- The GCC and CRC appeals raise serious flaws in the Project design and environmental review, and should be granted.
Thank you for considering this Action Alert and for making your comments to the Board of Supervisors!
With best regards,
Doug Kern, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Executive Director
[i] Caltrans Wildlife Crossings Guidance Manual: https://roadecology.ucdavis.edu/files/content/projects/CA_Wildlife%20Crossings%20Guidance_Manual.pdf
The State is engaged in the Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program (HRCAP), a planning process to create responsible public access across the 8.5 mile coastline of Hollister Ranch. This planning process began with the 1982 Hollister Ranch Access Plan, which was never implemented.
This process is proceeding quickly so it is important to make your opinions known now. The State has created the 3rd in a series of online public surveys, this one to examine the HRCAP's Objectives and Evaluation Criteria. We encourage you to read through the HRCAP's eight (8) Objectives and provide input on the Evaluation Criteria at the following link:
Do the Objectives and Evaluation Criteria make sense? What has been omitted and what ideas will you contribute to make this a better plan?
Make your voice known so this vital link in the California Coastal Trail can be realized. Sign up at the end of the survey to receive notices and updates.
The California Coastal Commission has a comprehensive website outlining the elements of the present planning process, historical documents, photographs, court records, and more.
Thank you for your participation in this survey, and for making your voice heard in this process!
PS – the Gaviota Coast Conservancy has taken the laboring oar to make public access to Hollister Ranch a reality. Please send a contribution, consider us in your estate planning, or volunteer with GCC. As Peter Douglas immortalized, "the coast is never saved, it’s always being saved."
The State is engaged in the Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program Planning Process (HRCAP) to create responsible public access across the 8.5-mile coastline of Hollister Ranch. This planning process began with the 1982 Hollister Ranch Access Plan, which was never implemented.
With the legislation AB-1680, authored by Assemblywoman Monique Limón, and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2019, the California Coastal Commission, in collaboration with the State Coastal Conservancy, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the State Lands Commission, by April 1, 2021, will develop a contemporary public access program for Hollister Ranch that will replace the existing coastal access program for Hollister Ranch that the commission adopted in 1982.
I represent GCC as a member of a large and enthusiastic Working Group working on the program. We had 100% attendance at our first Zoom meeting, which included public members, state officials, and consultants. The group is diverse and includes representatives from a wide variety of interests and will provide input on the program elements leading to an adopted Final Plan next year.
Everyone in the public will have multiple opportunities to comment and participate along with the Working Group members as three Public Surveys and two Public Workshops are planned between now and February 2021.
Gaviota Coast Conservancy is encouraged by the program and we're participating actively. We will forward official announcements regarding the upcoming Public Workshops and Public Surveys as soon as they become available and GCC encourages everyone to contribute your time and ideas.
We're looking forward to a plan that provides for thoughtful, respectful, and well-planned public access to the coastal areas of Hollister Ranch.
We've waited a long time for this moment. Over the next seven months Working Group meetings, Public Surveys, and Public Workshops will come along at a rapid pace to produce a Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program Plan next Spring. Buckle up!
Gaviota Coast Conservancy
The Gaviota Coast has been “anchored” by agriculture for centuries. Cattle grazing was the mainstay of the Spanish land grants. Dry-farming followed with crops such as wheat, tomatoes and beans. Orchards were created with large plantings of avocados and lemons from the 1950s to the present day. Unique crops such as macadamia nuts, cherimoyas, and abalone are also produced here. And did you know that the commercial production of the cymbidium orchid was pioneered at Dos Pueblos Ranch in the 1950s?
But coffee? Yes, coffee!
At 650 feet, near the Los Padres National Forest boundary, Jay Ruskey of FRINJ Coffee is exploring the nuances of coffee production, applying regenerative agricultural techniques, and mimicking the native habitat of the coffee tree. Jay began developing the first commercial coffee farm in California in 2002 on his ranch, Good Land Organics, with test plots of 13 arabica varieties planted under various conditions on the ranch.
The coffee tree grows best in rich, well-drained soil with mild temperatures, frequent rain, and shaded sun. Not all of these conditions naturally occur on the Gaviota Coast, but the fundamental characteristics, good drainage, and mild temperatures are found on the ranch. Soil amendments and irrigation can compensate for the missing necessities of rich soil and frequent rain and shade can be creatively provided. The fruit of the tree, known as the “cherry,” named for its visual resemblance to that fruit, contains the coffee bean. Too much heat and sun can cause the cherry to ripen too quickly, producing an inferior bean; sun is essential, but shade is necessary to produce high quality beans.
Tending to Coffee Plants on the Gaviota Coast
PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL MCKENNA
After years of study and experience, Jay has created a growing environment that mimics coffee’s native habitat. Two varieties of tropical trees will be inter-planted with the coffee trees and pruned to provide the coffee tree with filtered shade and a windbreak from the down-canyon drafts. The coffee tree can grow to 30 feet. In commercial production the tree is pruned to a human height to concentrate its energy and facilitate selective harvesting by hand, providing wonderful synergy with the companion planting of the tropical trees.
The Gaviota Coast Conservancy was very pleased to provide important financial assistance to realize the development of a demonstration coffee agroforest of 1.13 acres on the Gaviota Coast at Good Land Organics. This planting will demonstrate new and scalable cropping systems that have the potential to enhance and expand the viability of Gaviota agricultural operations. Through regenerative agricultural techniques, the planting will improve soil management protocols for healthy orchard ecology. Data will be produced to study practices to increase soil water retention, carbon sequestration, and nutrient exchange between diverse plant polycultures.
For the first time in history, coffee is being grown commercially on the U.S. mainland and it was pioneered on the Gaviota Coast!
PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL MCKENNA
A great read; The Monk of Mokha, Dave Eggers
Beach Clean Up
PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET KOED
Some time ago, before “social distancing” mandates were imposed across the lands, a group of hearty Gaviota guardians were called upon to remove a large amount of plastic debris near Driftwoods Cove. This volunteer group toiled for the good part of a day dragging irrigation tubing and various other rubbish from the picturesque beach. Jim and Susan Deacon filled their truck full of trash. Warren Powers filled his van with an 8 x 3 ½ foot piece of corrugated plastic tube and drove to the dump to see if it could be recycled. No dice. The transfer station could not repurpose it.
Jim and Susan Deacon moving "one man's trash"
PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET KOED
Knowing the landfill was not a good home for plastic, Warren put his creative Powers to work and came up with a solution. He called his wife Eva, a landscape designer who is also the volunteer President of the Board of the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden. Eva knew this beach blight could be used for something at the Garden, but she was not sure exactly what: A culvert? A play tunnel for the visiting children? Something for the potting shed?
New Play Tunnel
PHOTO COURTESY OF EVA POWERS
The tube sat behind the tool shed for a while . . . An idea finally came: it could be turned into a play tunnel for the kids. A generous grant was procured from Montecito Bank and Trust. This grant allowed the botanic garden folks to hire a mason to create a retaining wall with local river rocks around the plastic tube. Next, native flora was planted. And so this trash was converted to treasure. A perfect example of the environmental mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Buellton Department of Parks and Recreation offers an outdoor summer program at the Garden under the leadership of Kyle Abello. Children are encouraged to crawl through this tunnel and then talk about underground critters. At the Garden, there are other great projects going on such as the creation of a medicinal plant garden and construction of a Chumash willow and tule hut, ”tule ‘ap”, under the guidance of tribal member Julio Carrillo.
Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden Play Tunnel
PHOTO COURTESY OF EVA POWERS
If you want to be inspired by the transformation of this trash to treasure, you might consider visiting the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden in Buellton. See their website for more information at santaynezvalleybotanicgarden.org.
And next time you see a plastic out in the wild, remember Warren’s creative Powers and imagine how this trash could become treasure.
Thanks for cleaning the beach!