Big Sur Coastland Protected (CA)

September 24, 2002
California

SAN FRANCISCO, 9/24/02—The Trust for Public Land and the USDA Forest Service announced today the public acquisition and addition to the Los Padres National Forest of the final 325 acres of the most beloved and photographed section of the Big Sur Coast—the historic Brazil Ranch, also known as the Bixby Ocean Ranch. The 1255-acre ranch, 13 miles south of Carmel, would have been split into nine separate properties and sold for development if it had not been purchased last year by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL). TPL purchased this Big Sur coastal gem, easily identified by the historic Bixby Bridge on Highway 1, to protect it from looming development and safeguard its sweeping views, rocky shoreline, and magnificent rolling hills.

Federal funding for the acquisition was obtained through the efforts of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congressman Sam Farr, (D-Carmel). "This is a great day for the environment and a great day for the Central Coast," said Congressman Farr. "Working together, the Trust for Public Land and the federal government have protected this stunning coastal treasure from being chopped into little subdivisions. Now future generations can enjoy the jagged coastline and the dramatic vistas, just as we do." Congressman Farr is a longtime advocate for the protection of the Big Sur Coast, and a key member of the House Appropriations Committee. Senator Feinstein also played a vital role as a senior member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for federal land conservation.

"TPL is delighted to continue its partnership with the Forest Service to promote the care of this majestic property," says Reed Holderman, Executive Director, TPL-California. "We are very thankful for the $2.5 million gift from a benevolent anonymous donor, generous grants made by the state Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies, and a low-interest bridge loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and, all of which made this conservation success possible. We are especially grateful for the support of U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Boxer, state Senator Bruce McPherson, and Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fred Keeley."

The Brazil Ranch is named for the pioneer family that worked the land for nearly a century as a farm, ranch, and dairy operation. Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame purchased the land from Tony and Margaret Brazil in 1977 and operated it as a cattle ranch and horse breeding facility until Woodside Partners, prospective developers, bought the property in 2000. In October of that year, TPL stepped in to keep this prime real estate off the market and secure funding for its public purchase. The Forest Service acquired 930 acres of the property from TPL in February of this year. Today's completion of the ranch purchase creates an 11-mile stretch of permanently protected coastline beginning at the Bixby Bridge, extending south through Andrew Molera State Park, and bordering the offshore California Sea Otter State Game Refuge.

Senator McPherson and Assemblyman Keeley co-authored a request for $5 million that was allocated to the California Coastal Conservancy for the Brazil Ranch purchase.

"The Brazil Ranch is an environmental and recreational jewel. I am thrilled to have helped protect this property for future generations," comments state Senator Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz).

"The Brazil Ranch acquisition is the product of hard work by all the parties involved. It is critical, especially in this era of budgetary constraints, to work together to save California's special places. Big Sur is one of those places that deserves our whole-hearted efforts to conserve," said Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek).

The Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land will continue working in partnership over the coming months, along with members of the public, to develop a vision for the property that integrates community values with the land's unique natural and cultural resources.

"The Brazil Ranch is a special place where history, beauty and spirituality merge," said Los Padres National Forest Supervisor Jeanine Derby. "Protecting those qualities is very important to us, and to that end we will work with local stakeholders on a vision for future stewardship of the land. One concept we plan to explore is a way of melding science, resource conservation and the arts to help enhance people's experience, understanding and appreciation for the Big Sur coast," she added.

According to Monterey District Ranger John Bradford, the Forest Service is currently involved in a public process to revise the overall management plan for the 1.75 million-acre national forest. "The Forest Plan will address appropriate access and uses of all of the acquired lands within the Big Sur area, including the Brazil Ranch," said Bradford. "We welcome the public's participation in this effort," he added.

In the short term, John Moon, who has lived and worked on the Brazil Ranch since the time it was owned by the Funts, will continue as on-site caretaker of the property. "My family and I have been dedicated stewards of this ranch for over 25 years. We feel privileged to be able to continue our commitment to this unique property with TPL and the Forest Service," said Moon.

For more information about interim management of the Brazil Ranch, contact John Bradford at (831) 385-5434. For more information about Los Padres National Forest and opportunities to be involved in the land management planning process, visit www.r5.fs.fed.us/lospadres or contact the Los Padres National Forest Public Affairs Office at (805) 968-6640.

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 1.4 million acres nationwide. For more than 20 years, TPL has worked with the Big Sur Land Trust and other organizations to protect more than 6,000 acres of California's pristine Big Sur coastline.