100K Foundation Grant for Ellwood Mesa (CA)

GOLETA, CA, 12/3/2004 — The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to TPL to help purchase and protect Ellwood Mesa. The gift, made in honor of the late Pierre Claeyssens, a beloved local philanthropist, will help protect Ellwood Mesa and is part of a local effort to name the mesa’s Monarch Meadow in memory of Mr. Claeyssens.

Just two years ago, TPL and Friends of the Ellwood Coast launched a major fundraising effort to buy and protect Ellwood Mesa forever. Since that time, a phenomenal $19.54 million dollars has been raised toward the $20.4 million necessary to protect the mesa on behalf of the public. TPL and the community have until December 15, 2004 to raise the final $860,000 to save this bluff for all time.

Pierre Claeyssens cared deeply about protecting the coast and gave quietly and significantly toward the efforts to preserve the Douglas Family Preserve, El Capitan Ranch and Ellwood Mesa. Pierre grew-up in Belgium in a family of modest means and spent his childhood living in apartments with no garden or yard. He was always grateful for public parks, gardens and open space that he could visit and enjoy as a small boy. Through his philanthropy, saving land as public open space was one of the ways he chose to give back to the community and to make the world a better place for future generations.

Larry Crandell, who helped spearhead the community effort to name the Monarch Meadow in Pierre’s honor, remarked, “We are so grateful to Pierre’s family and trustees of his foundation for their extraordinary generosity. We are honored to be able to name the meadow adjacent to the Ellwood Main butterfly grove as a beautiful and spectacular tribute to a remarkable man.”

“We are so pleased to be able to permanently name the Monarch Meadow—a remarkably beautiful outdoor environment—to honor an individual who contributed so remarkably to this community. We are profoundly grateful to Pierre’s family for their generosity, and for honoring Pierre’s commitment to environmental preservation,” said Derek Westen, a member of the Trust for Public Land’s Fundraising Committee.

Ellwood Mesa is an extraordinary 137-acres coastal bluff located at the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast in the City of Goleta. The property includes nearly a mile of coastline and is one of Santa Barbara County’s last undeveloped coastal bluffs in a major urban area. It is exceptional habitat for monarch butterflies, hosts a wealth of plant, bird and animal species, and is a haven for people.

Peter and Stephanie Sperling, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Andrew H. Burnett Foundation and the Hutton Foundation have made significant contributions in order to designate the Monarch Meadow in honor of Pierre. Anyone wishing to donate can send a tax-deductible contribution to: Pierre Claeyssens Meadow, The Trust for Public Land, P.O. Box 1244, Goleta, CA. Or call Carla Frisk at (805) 350-3811.

Two years ago TPL completed a successful campaign to save the 2,500-acre El Capitan Ranch further west along the coast and transferred the land to the State of California as an addition to El Capitan State Beach. In 1997 TPL bought and protected the 70-acre Douglas Family Preserve, also known as the Wilcox property, and donated the prime coastal bluffs to the city of Santa Barbara for public enjoyment.

TPL is a national land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic and cultural resources for future generations. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.9 million acres nationwide.

Posted 12/2004