Land Added to Morro Bay Dunes Greenbelt (CA)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA, 1/21/04 -The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced the protection of 32 acres of rare coastal dune habitat in southern Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. TPL purchased the Pacey property and transferred it to the California Department of Fish and Game to be protected and managed as an addition to the Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve for the enjoyment of generations to come. The $1.9 million purchase protects a portion of the rare Morro Bay dune ecosystem and is a key link in the Morro Bay Dunes Greenbelt, a community initiated effort to create a habitat and trail corridor of more than 1,000 acres connecting Montana de Oro State Park and Morro Bay State Park. The purchase marks TPL’s fourth Greenbelt project.

“Morro Bay is a rare and wonderful part of California’s majestic landscape,” Senator Feinstein said. “This purchase will help preserve 32 acres of coastal dune habitat and add to a 1,000 acre greenbelt along the Central Coast. I commend the Trust for Public Land for their conservation efforts, and I am pleased to have played a role in helping protect this land.”

“I was so pleased to be able to assist with this joint effort to protect the beauty and health of Morro Bay,” says Rep. Lois Capps, and further states, “We have a duty to make sure our spectacular and rare natural resources are maintained for generations to come. This purchase will help ensure that this environmental jewel remains a highlight of our coast.”

Funding for the acquisition came from the California Wildlife Conservation Board using funding from voter-approved Proposition 50, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA funding was made possible by an appropriation secured by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Lois Capps (CA-23). Rep. Capps was also instrumental in securing the USFWS funds from the Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program.

Executive director of the Trust for Public Land-California, Reed Holderman, commends the teamwork, “We are grateful to all our partners for helping to complete another critical portion of the greenbelt, transforming a community dream into reality. We continue to work with our partners year after year, piece by piece, to complete the greenbelt.”

“The purchase of this critical habitat protects endangered species and helps preserve the Central Coast’s natural beauty. I am proud to help leave this legacy for our children,” says state Senator Bruce McPherson (R-San Luis Obispo).

“Protecting Morro Bay’s beautiful landscapes is vital for the environment and important for our economy,” says state Assemblyman Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria). “The Central Coast’s tourist industry thrives on the protection of our spectacular natural resources.”

Morro Bay ranks as a top ten bird sanctuary across the nation each year by the Audubon Society, and was accepted into the National Estuary Program in 1995 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The property is home to several endangered and threatened plant and animal species found only within the Morro Bay watershed, including the endangered Morro shoulderband snail, the threatened Morro manzanita, and the sensitive Morro blue butterfly. The public ownership of the property protects these species, their habitat and the open space that still surrounds Morro Bay.

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

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization based in California, is partnering with the Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the State Coastal Conservancy, among others, in a large scale effort to preserve the Morro Bay watershed. The Morro Bay Dunes Greenbelt will provide vital connections between existing public open space in the Morro Bay watershed. TPL has already participated in three other projects in the Greenbelt including Powell I and II, now part of Morro Bay State Park, and Morro Palisades, now called the Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve managed by the California Department of Fish and Game.

In addition, TPL purchase and protected the 580-acres Hollister Ranch earlier this year to help protect the water quality of Morro Bay. Though not officially part of the Greenbelt effort, the ranch is now being managed by the California Department of Fish and Game as the Chorro Creek Ecological Reserve.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land conserves land for people as parks, gardens, playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL has protected thousands of acres along California’s central coast including the Estero Bay property in San Luis Obispo County and El Capitan Ranch in Santa Barbara County. TPL is currently working to protect Ellwood Mesa, also in Santa Barbara County.