Federal Funds Secured for Ellwood Mesa (CA)

SANTA BARBARA CO. CA, 2/12/04-The Trust for Public Land today praised Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congresswoman Lois Capps for securing $792,000 in critical federal funding for the purchase and protection of the 137-acre Ellwood Mesa property. The funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Estuarine and Land Protection Program (CELP) and was part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed on January 23 by President Bush.

“As a prime piece of our precious California Coast, Ellwood Mesa is a perfect fit for these Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Program funds,” stated Congresswoman Lois Capps. “In addition to protecting a number of important natural resources, the acquisition of Ellwood Mesa will also link two existing open space areas, preserving over two miles of coastline and 335 acres of open space for the future.”

In 2002, Congress created the CELP program, which provides matching grants to state and local governments to acquire and protect coastal and estuarine areas with significant conservation, recreation, ecological, cultural or aesthetic values, especially those that are threatened by conversion from their natural state.

“We are very grateful to Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer and Representative Capps and for their leadership and hard work helping to protect the eastern gateway to the nationally significant Gaviota Coast,” said Reed Holderman, Executive Director of TPL-CA. “These federal funds bring us yet another step closer to permanent protection for Ellwood Mesa.”

A significant portion of Ellwood Mesa is designated as Environmentally Sensitive Habitat, in recognition of its outstanding natural resource values. For example, the Mesa is home to one of the largest Monarch Butterfly over-wintering sites in California, hosting upwards of 60,000 butterflies each season.

In addition, Ellwood Mesa’s southern beaches provide critical habitat for 180 Western snowy plovers, a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In July 2002, TPL entered into an agreement with Comstock Homes and Santa Barbara Development Partners to acquire the Ellwood Mesa property, threatened by development, for permanent protection as public open space. 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. With this new boost in funding of $792,000, the total raised is now over $9.35 million. The City of Goleta, which will own and manage the property once it is acquired, is completing the acquisition package by exchanging 36 acres of the adjacent property for the developer’s remaining interest in the mesa.

“People from all over the State of California have been contributing their own time and money to realize the dream of saving Ellwood Mesa,” said Kim Kimbell of the Campaign to Save Ellwood Mesa. “We couldn’t be more pleased that Congresswoman Capps and Senators Feinstein and Boxers’ efforts to bring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the attention of those in Washington, D.C. have been so successful,” he concluded.

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 1.5 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.