Purchase Pending on Landmark Big Sur (CA) Ranch

SAN FRANCISCO-The Trust for Public Land announced today its pending purchase of the most beloved and photographed section of the Big Sur Coast-the 1,226-acre Bixby Ocean Ranch. The California Coastal Conservancy also announced today the approval of a $5 million grant toward the purchase of the ranch. The ranch, 13 miles south of Carmel, will be split into nine separate properties and sold for development if it is not purchased for conservation. TPL will purchase this crown jewel of the Big Sur Coast, 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 for public enjoyment and critical wildlife habitat. TPL will then transfer the ranch, which was at one time owned by Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame, to the U.S. Forest Service, creating an 11-mile stretch of permanently protected coastline beginning at the Bixby Bridge and extending south through Andrew Molera State Park.

“The protection of the Bixby Ocean Ranch as the Big Sur Coast’s most recognized property is conservation on a national scale benefiting the millions of people who visit the coast now and for generations to come. The property, once it is open to the public, will provide unprecedented recreational opportunities along the Big Sur Coast. Protecting this important national landscape is a top priority,” says U.S. Congressman Sam Farr.

U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, a longtime advocate for the protection of the Big Sur Coast, has been critical to the protection of thousands of acres over the years. He is currently supporting the appropriation of federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies for the Bixby Ocean Ranch purchase by the U.S. Forest Service.

TPL has until August 2001 to complete the purchase of the property. TPL will own the ranch and keep it off the market until funds become available for public purchase by the U.S. Forest Service. TPL’s conveyance of the ranch to the U.S. Forest Service is expected by August 31, 2002.

“TPL, with our local partner, the Big Sur Land Trust, is working to raise public and private funding for the purchase. At this time, we are about $10 million short of our anticipated purchase price,” says Debra Geiler, Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land. “We are very grateful for the support the project has already received including the $5 million granted from the Coastal Conservancy today, in addition to federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies, federal Title VIII funds, and a low-interest bridge loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. We have also received a generous $2.5 million gift from an anonymous donor that we are seeking to match with other private sources. We are especially grateful for continued support of Congressman Sam Farr, state Senator Bruce McPherson, and Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fred Keeley both in Congress and the state Legislature,” continues Geiler.

Senator McPherson and Assemblyman Keeley co-authored a Member’s Request for $5 million to go to the California Coastal Conservancy for the Bixby Ocean Ranch purchase.

“The Bixby Ocean Ranch is an environmental and recreational jewel. I am working hard to see that this property will be protected forever,” comments state Senator Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz).

“The Big Sur Coast is one of the most spectacular places in the world. The Bixby Ocean Ranch acquisition is critical to its protection and I am proud to support its public purchase,” comments Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek).

Images of the Bixby Ocean Ranch with its stunning views of the Bixby Bridge, pristine beaches, and coastal bluffs are used in various national and international advertisements for cars, credit cards, and airlines. The ranch has come to symbolize the pristine, majestic beauty of California’s Big Sur Coast in the national imagination. In addition to its photogenic qualities, the ranch, which sits at the northern gateway to the Big Sur Coast, is home to redwood groves, freshwater springs, creeks, and rare and extensive grasslands that support several threatened animal species.

This unique property has been on the market for nearly ten years but, until recently, public funding to protect the Big Sur Coast was scant. With the recent passage of Propositions 12 and 13 and increases in Land and Water Conservation Fund monies, the public is now in a position to accelerate the pace of land conservation along this increasingly threatened coastline. These increased funds are finite; TPL, the Big Sur Land Trust, and others continue to advocate for permanent land conservation funding necessary to protect important American landscapes.

Earlier this year, the Trust for Public Land launched The Race to Save California’s Coast, a fundraising campaign aimed to raise $3 million in two years to help acquire and protect California’s coastal land. TPL is accepting donations to this campaign for the Bixby Ocean Ranch purchase. 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 1.2 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. For more information find TPL on-line at www.tpl.org.