Protection of Five Miles of Coastline Celebrated (CA)

SANTA CRUZ, CA, 4/5/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today held a long-awaited dedication to celebrate the protection of five miles of coastline at Sand Hill Bluff and Coast Dairies. The properties are located just north of Santa Cruz along Highway One. The land will be managed for public access, wildlife habitat, and sustainable agriculture. Combined with the adjacent Wilder Ranch, they contribute to a 13-mile corridor of protected coastline.

“With the protection of Coast Dairies and Sand Hill Bluff, the public has gained a beautiful treasure to pass on to future generations,” said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

“As the state’s population grows, protected open space becomes all the more precious,” said Reed Holderman, President of Coast Dairies & Land Co. and Western Regional Director of The Trust for Public Land. “Today we are celebrating the protection of a significant piece of California’s coastline. In a hundred years, this stunning landscape will look much the same as it does today, and our grandchildren will be able to walk for miles without crossing a fence.”

In 1998, TPL purchased Coast Dairies & Land Co., and its sole asset, the nearly 7,000-acre Coast Dairies property. The 407-acre coastal portion was conveyed last July to State Parks. At over four miles long, Coast Dairies was the most significant coastal addition to Northern California’s State Parks in 31 years. An additional 5,701 acres, mostly on the eastern side of Highway One, will be transferred to the Bureau of Land Management later this year. The remaining 737 acres, where fava beans, artichokes and strawberries are grown, will be managed by Agri-Culture, a Watsonville nonprofit.

“Coast Dairies represents the best of California”, said State Parks’ Director Ruth Coleman. “We at State Parks look forward to protecting this treasure for all Californians today and in the future.”

The 154-acre Sand Hill Bluff property lies immediately south of Coast Dairies. It has been in farming for over a hundred years, and artichokes and brussels sprouts are still grown there. Nearly half of the property is owned and managed by Agri-Culture. State Parks owns and manages the balance of the property, including high coastal bluffs, a beach, and a 5,000-year old archeological site left behind by ancestral Ohlone peoples.

Together, these properties contain tremendous natural, scenic, and cultural resources. They feature a total of seven beaches and six creeks whose watersheds are almost fully contained within Coast Dairies. Coast Dairies also contains seven wetlands, and hundreds of acres of farmland and forest that are home to native plants and animals, including some rare and endangered species.

At Coast Dairies, current beach access is limited to unimproved volunteer trails with little formal parking. State Parks plans to improve public access over the next few years using operation and maintenance funds secured with the support of Assemblymember John Laird. Fortunately funding is immediately available to begin restoration work on the wetlands at the mouth of Laguna Creek. Improvements for fish habitat, coastal scrub restoration and the removal of exotic species will begin in the next several months.

Funding for the protection of Coast Dairies, purchased for $45 million, came from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the State Coastal Conservancy, Save-the-Redwoods League, Santa Cruz County Proposition 70 funds, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and anonymous donations.

Funding for the purchase of Sand Hill Bluff, valued at $12 million, came from State Parks, the State Department of Conservation’s Farmland Conservancy Program, the State Coastal Conservancy, and Caltrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation program. The California Congressional delegation, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, secured additional funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people. Since 1973, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 41,800 acres-about65 square miles-in the coastal zone of California. Nationwide, TPL has protected more than 2 million acres.