Hollister Peak Ranch Protected (CA)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, 6/12/03 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) announced today the conveyance of the 580-acre Hollister Peak Ranch to the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) for permanent public protection. TPL purchased the 580-acre Hollister Peak Ranch in late March 2002 to permanently protect its vital resources for the health of Morro Bay, while funds were secured for the eventual public purchase by DFG. Located on the banks of Chorro Creek along Highway 1 between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, the ranch includes critical Morro Bay watershed lands and floodplains as well as the lower foothills of the striking local landmark, Hollister Peak. The project partners are planning an event celebrating the protection of the property for July 24.

“The purchase and restoration of Hollister Peak Ranch is critical to the health and beauty of Morro Bay and its surrounding communities. We are committed to working with all our partners on the local, state, and federal level to protect this remarkable resource,” says Margaret Eadington, Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land.

“Protecting the beautiful landscapes around Morro Bay and elsewhere on the Central Coast is good for the environment and good for business,” says state Assemblyman Abel Maldonado (R-33). “The tourist industry on the Central Coast thrives on the protection of our spectacular natural resources.”

The purchase of Hollister Peak Ranch is part of a larger effort to protect and restore Morro Bay. Chorro Creek, which is fundamental to the long-term health and productivity of the bay, is the estuary’s largest freshwater source and provides important habitat for endangered steelhead and other species of special concern. The Ranch is well suited for sediment control and restoring riparian and freshwater wetlands due to its large size and location along Chorro Creek. In addition to the clear environmental benefits, the acquisition protects a critical viewshed of Hollister Peak along the Highway One corridor.

“This vital step toward the protection of this critical watershed protects endangered species, preserves the Central Coast’s natural beauty and Morro Bay’s water quality,” says Mike Multari, Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

TPL has secured public funding for the state’s purchase of the ranch. The funding and protection partners in this effort include the California Department of Fish & Game, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the State Coastal Conservancy, the California Resources Agency, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Bay Foundation and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

Now that the property has been conveyed to the Department of Fish & Game, it will be protected as an open space and wildlife habitat reserve. The Bay Foundation and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program are committed to the management and restoration of the property to enhance its habitat value and to improve water quality. They have entered into a cooperative agreement with the Department of Fish & Game to assist with management, planning and implementation of restoration projects, and have pledged at least $200,000 towards those ends.

TPL, a nonprofit land conservation organization headquartered in San Francisco and founded in 1972, has protected thousands of acres along California’s Central Coast including the 355-acre Estero Bay property near Cayucos and the 7,000-acre Coast Dairies property in Santa Cruz County. TPL is currently working to protect Ellwood Mesa in Santa Barbara County as well as continuing to work to protect Morro Bay by acquiring properties along the bay’s shorefront and along Chorro and Los Osos Creeks.

Partners to create the Morro Bay Greenbelt and protect the estuary include TPL, Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance, Morro Bay National Estuary Program, CA Department of Fish & Game, Wildlife Conservation Board, Coastal Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, CA Department of Parks and Recreation, US Bureau of Land Management, Representative Lois Capps, Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, and Supervisor Shirley Bianchi.