Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program Begins!

Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program (HRCAP) Begins!

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

Executive Director



A New Crop on the Gaviota Coast

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


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!

The undeveloped site of the coffee grove, a south facing hillside, with remnants of an avocado planting



National Coffee Association

Good Land Organics

FRINJ Coffee

A great read; The Monk of Mokha, Dave Eggers




One Man's Trash is Another Woman's Treasure

Beach Clean Up


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"


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


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


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!

- Janet



Gaviota Coast July 2020

Gaviota Coast


Hello nature lovers! Exploring the Santa Barbara area, I have been captivated by the beauty of the Gaviota Coast and have been motivated to preserve this gorgeous coastline that runs 72 miles from Coal Oil Point near Isla Vista, west to Point Conception and then north to Point Sal.

Early on in my move to the area, I discovered the Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC), an environmental non-profit with a mission to protect the Gaviota Coast for present and future generations. I attended several GCC educational group field trips and started to develop a deeper understanding of the coast. I began to explore up and down the coast, to learn its history, and to understand the diverse and unique ecosystem of this precious region.

Access to walking the coast in certain areas takes a very low tide. Other areas have very limited access to the beach. Respect for the ocean and it's "whims" is essential…especially the rogue waves.

On the day I took this photo, I recall driving west from Santa Barbara in the torrential rain to our planned access point. My emergency lights started blinking on my 17-year-old (but reliable) car – they got my attention!

After giving my car "Big Blue" a pep talk, she finally deposited me at the state park access point. Still raining, I opened the door to meet my friend for the hike. We peered out toward the ocean "Could that be a clearing in the clouds? ... should we try?" We had only a narrow window of time to hike the coast due to the changing tide.

After a brief wait and with the rain calming to a slow drizzle, we headed onto the beach and west up the coast. The view was stunning...ahead were seagulls hunting for dinner, unusual rock formations rising out of the sand, and the silvery grays and blues of the ocean. Behind us, the dark clouds were lingering and slowly moving inland.

Gaviota Coast


The breath-taking sights took us further than we expected. Being mindful (sort of) of the tides, we knew it was time to turn around to the eastward journey. With only a few more bends of the coast, the sky's lower sun gave way to distractions and more photos. The meditative coastal scene and photography lulled me into a dreamlike state, only to be brought back to awareness by a rogue wave! Yikes! It won't be the last time... but I have to be careful. Though the weather was unpredictable, the hike turned out to be a beautiful afternoon on the coast.

Right now, much access to this beautiful coast is unavailable due to temporary closures. I am mindful of restrictions ... but I look forward to the day when I can continue my explorations. I love this area and will continue to conserve its beauty for future generations.

See you on the coast!

- Sally



Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program (HRCAP) Survey #2


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.  

Public access at the Ranch became a “live” issue in 2018 when the Gaviota Coast Conservancy initiated the Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance, https://www.gaviotacoastaltrailalliance.org/, with three allied organizations to oppose a proposed sweetheart court settlement between the State of California and Hollister Ranch Owners Association. Alliance lawyers convinced the court that the settlement was not legal or fair.  Subsequent State legislation mandates that four state agencies conduct a public planning process, the HRCAP, to develop a program for public access at Hollister Ranch by April 2021 and implement the first phase of public access to Hollister Ranch by April 2022.

This process is proceeding quickly so it is important to make your opinions known now. The state has created an online survey concerning elements of this access plan at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HRCAPSurvey2.

We strongly encourage you to complete this survey. 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.

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Capturing the Beauty of the Gaviota Coast

Painting up on the Bill Wallace Trail

Painting up on the Bill Wallace Trail

For the past seven years, Gaviota Coast Conservancy has celebrated the splendor of the Gaviota Coast with an art show fundraiser at the Bacara Resort featuring paintings of the Gaviota Coast by members of SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment).  SCAPE's mission is “to promote camaraderie and artistic growth for their members while helping to raise money for non-profit environmental organizations through a variety of events.”

Many of the painters go on location, “en plein air,” which is French for outdoors.  They hike in with their easels and paints or pastels in tow.  They face an array of challenges including animals, bugs, onlookers, and environmental conditions such as wind, rain showers, heat, and cold.  The artists are truly in the moment, interpreting light, shadow, and atmosphere in rendering the landscape. 

Each week there are scheduled “paint-outs”

Each week there are scheduled “paint-outs,” opportunities for artists to meet with others in a chosen location for collaboration and company.   Jane Hurd, Filiberto Lomeli, and Jerry Martin organize the paint-outs, and often in early Spring, you will see painters in various locations on the Gaviota Coast. 

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An Earth Day 2020 Celebration - "Hiking In"

“Hiking In”  by Mike Brown


Hiking In  photo: Eric Wilmanns

The anticipation starts when I make the turn off the highway onto the dead-end road and park near the start of the trail. Stuffing my pack with gear, I grab my board, and I scoot across to the trail. I love this hike in.

My surfing life is divided into distinct parts—my teen years in the longboard era learning to surf in beach breaks, my college years getting acclimated to waves of some consequence in cold water conditions, a decade plus on the east coast rarely surfing, and the last 25+ years surfing all kinds of waves here and across the globe. I’ve surfed a few all-time waves, some good waves, a lot of average waves, and more than my share of crappy waves.

It’s easy to be a curmudgeon after 55 years of surfing. Every surf spot feels more crowded, “kids” out paddle me for waves, SUP riders take every wave the kids don’t get, and every person under 25 who lives within a half hour drive of the beach seems to be learning to surf. These days, it seems that everyone is going surfing at all hours of the day (and the night!) no matter how small or how funky the conditions.

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Gaviota Givings Delivers Ranch-Raised Pork

Sixth-Generation Farmer Guner Tautrim Selling Sausage, Shoulders, Ham Steaks, and More


Gaviota Givings Delivers Ranch-Raised Pork

Guner and Heidi Tautrim raise pigs with their sons on a Gaviota Coast ranch that’s been in the family since 1866. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss


Here is a great article in the Santa Barbara Independent about our own Guner Tautrim and his ranch!





Counting Sheep

If your mind is taking you to dark places as you drift off to sleep, try counting sheep. About a week ago, I took a break from making fabric masks for my daughter and her coworkers in a local health care facility. I’d heard about the sheep grazing up on Elings hill and decided I would go take a look. It was easy to keep my distance from families who were marveling at these woolly wonders. There were moms, dads and baby sheep, about 275 of them including newborns, gnawing on green vegetation and helping the neighborhood with fire prevention.  The scene was idyllic and I felt transported to the French countryside. I’ve been up there about every day since.

Gaviota Coast Sheep with Big View


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Gaviota Coast Walks

To All Coastal Walkers,

My wife and I are confirmed walkers and we’ve noticed a large number of people walking in this era of the coronavirus. It’s a healthy habit and very therapeutic in times of stress and uncertainty. In that spirit, I put together three walks you can take on the Gaviota Coast that can be tailored to your own ability and that provide space for social distancing. Mornings are the best time for being about on the Gaviota Coast to avoid the afternoon west winds of springtime.

Clicking on the links will take you to a two-page description of each of the three walks.

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