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,, 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

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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A Walk in the time of Coronavirus

The best prescription for your general wellbeing, assuming you are adhering to social distancing and washing your hands more than you think you need to, is to take a walk. Let me suggest one that is close by, but may not be on your radar.

The Gaviota Coast provides numerous wonderful strolls, walks, and hikes. The closest one to most of the residents of the South Coast is Coal Oil Point Reserve, part of the UC Natural Reserve System, and the adjacent UCSB North Campus Open Space.

Coal Oil Point Reserve, Sands Beach, Devereux Slough Outlet and the Gaviota Coast, Phil McKenna

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GCC Coronavirus Response Hub

Gaviota Coast Conservancy,

through a grant from ESRI,

Jack Dangermond's GIS mapping software company,

has made available a hub for Coronavirus information.



View the GCC Coronavirus Response Hub here.


Stay Healthy and Well!

We’re in this together!


Settlement for 2015 Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Pipeline company to pay more than $60 million for 2015 oil spill near Santa Barbara

A pipeline company has agreed to pay more than $60 million, and change its operations, to settle litigation arising from an oil spill that gushed from one of its lines in 2015, north of Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.


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