$400K for Ellwood Mesa Acquisition (CA)


SANTA BARBARA CO. CA, 12/14/04-The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has announced that, earlier today, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an additional $400,000 towards TPL’s efforts to save the 137-acre Ellwood Mesa property in Goleta. Building upon a $367,963 Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF) grant approved last year, the County has now allocated a total of $767,963 towards the Ellwood Mesa acquisition. Approval of these funds, a combination of CREF and state AB 1431 grants, brings the total funds raised by TPL and Friends of the Ellwood Coast to $20.05 million, with $350,000 needed to reach our $20.4 million fundraising goal.

“I am extremely pleased that the Board of Supervisors voted to approve these critical grants for Ellwood Mesa,” stated Supervisor Gail Marshall who has championed the efforts to acquire the spectacular coastal bluff top property for years. “The protection of this remarkable mesa as public open space will be a great testament to the community’s tireless work for more than two decades,” she concluded.

The first of the two grants, $50,000, came from CREF and the second, $350,000, came from AB 1431 – a Coastal Resources Grant. AB 1431 was enacted by the State Legislature in 1996 to provide funds for coastal counties and cities to undertake preservation and restoration efforts and contains funds earmarked for land conservation projects on the Gaviota Coast. The funds are a portion of excess Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act royalties from existing offshore leases. CREF was set up in 1988 to alleviate the adverse impacts of offshore oil and gas development on coastal resources and can only be used for this purpose. Since 1988, over $14 million in CREF grants has been approved by the County Board of Supervisors.

Located on the Gaviota Coast, Ellwood Mesa is currently zoned for residential use. In July 2002, TPL entered into an agreement with Comstock Homes and Santa Barbara Development Partners to acquire Ellwood Mesa property for permanent protection as public open space. Once acquired, Ellwood Mesa will be transferred to the City of Goleta and will be maintained and operated in conjunction with the remainder of the existing Santa Barbara Shores Park.

“The continued support of the County of Santa Barbara has been critical to the effort to save Ellwood Mesa once and for all,” stated Reed Holderman, Executive Director of TPL-CA. “The County provided our first public funds for Ellwood last year and has once again shown its unwavering commitment to protecting this jewel of the Gaviota Coast.”

Ellwood Mesa is the gateway to the Gaviota Coast, one of the most significant biological transition zones in the world. Consistent with the use of CREF funds, this coastal property maintains numerous environmentally sensitive coastal resources onsite, including monarch butterfly habitat, vernal pools and native grasslands and roosting and foraging for numerous resident and migratory raptors, including the White-tailed kite. The property is a cherished community asset and is used by local residents to walk, jog, bike, horseback ride, bird watch and to gain access to the beach.

TPL and Friends of the Ellwood Coast are accepting donations through January 31, 2005 to purchase Ellwood Mesa and make it available for the public to enjoy as open space. Gifts of $1,000 or more received by the January 31 deadline will be listed on a central donor recognition marker. All gifts to the Campaign to Save Ellwood Mesa will be used specifically on this project, and are fully tax-deductible. Anyone wishing to make a contribution to save Ellwood Mesa can contact Carla Frisk at (805) 350-3811 or send checks to the Trust for Public Land, Ellwood Mesa Campaign, P. O. Box 1244, Goleta, CA 93116.

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.