$1M Needed to Close Ellwood Mesa Fund Gap (CA)

GOLETA, Santa Barbara County, CA, 7/14/04-The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Friends of the Ellwood Coast (FOTEC) gathered with residents and elected officials on Ellwood Mesa today to announce that the Campaign to Save Ellwood Mesa is within $1 million of its goal of raising $20.4 million to help buy and protect the 137-acre Ellwood Mesa property, the eastern gateway to the renowned Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County. Under the leadership of State Assembly Member Hannah Beth Jackson, the state recently earmarked more than $10.5 million toward the protection effort-$ 4 million from the State Coastal Conservancy, $6 million from the California Wildlife Conservation Board and $500,000 from CalTrans. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congresswoman Lois Capps secured $792,000 in critical federal funding for the Ellwood Mesa protection effort. With strong support from Supervisor Gail Marshall, the effort received $367,963 in Santa Barbara County Coastal Resources Enhancement Funds.

“Our community has raised more than $7.6 million from individuals for the purchase and protection of our beloved Ellwood Mesa,” said State Assembly Member Hannah-Beth Jackson. “And I promised you that I would lead the charge in Sacramento to bring state funding to this effort, and am thrilled to announced that over $10 million in state funds will be used to preserve Ellwood Mesa. The local dedication and fundraising efforts highly helped convince the state to fund this effort. Now, we must focus on raising the final $1 million by the end of November. Let’s join together to raise the final $1 million to save Ellwood Mesa,” continued Jackson.

Currently threatened by development, Ellwood Mesa is zoned for residential use. A total of $20.4 million in public and private funding must be raised to purchase the property and make it available to the public. Since January of 2003, TPL and its local partner, Friends of the Ellwood Coast, have been raising private funds towards the $20.4 million project goal. State Assembly Member Hannah-Beth Jackson has brought more than $10.5 million of state funding to the conservation project. But because $20.4 million is only a portion of the estimated value of the mesa, the City of Goleta is completing the acquisition package by exchanging 36 acres of the adjacent city-owned property for the developer’s remaining interest in the mesa. Once acquired, Ellwood Mesa will be transferred to the City of Goleta to be managed together with the remainder of the existing Santa Barbara Shores Park.

“More than 3,500 donations from community members have raised more than $7 million toward the total fundraising goal of $20.4 million. The community and our elected officials-Assembly Member Hannah-Beth Jackson, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congresswoman Lois Capps-have given us the best chance ever of protecting a critical part of the Gaviota Coast,” said Reed Holderman, Executive Director of the Trust for Public Land California. “We are continuing to accept private donations for the last $1 million-every dollar we raise in the community will help to complete the purchase and protect this incredible property.”

“This community is visionary and generous. They have opened their hearts and wallets and worked tirelessly to save Ellwood Mesa. Success is within our reach. We must continue our fundraising efforts to close this $1 million gap and make our dream of protecting Ellwood Mesa forever, a reality,” said Goleta Mayor Cynthia Brock.

“This community has fought for years to prevent development on the Ellwood bluffs to protect the sensitive natural resources, including the monarch butterfly aggregation, and to preserve the stunning mountain and ocean views for future generations,” said Chris Lange, President of Friends of the Ellwood Coast. “The hour is at hand-we have only $1 million left to raise.”

At the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast, Ellwood Mesa is part of one of the most significant biological transition zones in the state. This past winter, over 40,000 Monarch butterflies clustered on the Eucalyptus groves in the Ellwood Main butterfly grove on the property, as part of their annual over wintering visit. The property is a cherished community asset and is used by local residents to walk, jog, bike, bird watch and to gain access to the beach. School children from all parts of the state also made their annual migration to the Mesa, to observe this real life phenomenon up close.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Campaign to Save Ellwood Mesa, the public may call Suzanne Moss at 415/495-5660 ext. 402 or Carla Frisk at 805/350-3811 or send donations to The Trust for Public Land – Ellwood Mesa Campaign, P.O. Box 1244, Goleta, CA 93116.

TPL recently 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 in October 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. The public can find more information about TPL and the Ellwood Mesa property and campaign on-line, at www.tpl.org/cal.