Second $4M Grant Approved for Ellwood Mesa (CA)
GOLETA, SANTA BARBARA CO. CA, 6/30/04-The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), at its meeting in Eureka this morning, unanimously approved a $4 million grant toward TPL’s efforts to save the 137-acre Ellwood Mesa property, located in the City of Goleta at the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast. The SCC grant brings the total funds raised to date for the Ellwood Mesa purchase to more than $17.3 million. The SCC approved the funds from voter-approved Proposition 40, the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhoods and Coastal Protection Act of 2002. In February of this year the California Wildlife Conservation Board granted $4 million towards the Ellwood Mesa purchase from voter-approved Proposition 50 funds.
“Approval of these funds by the Coastal Conservancy is particularly significant because it brings us much closer to the dream of securing the entire Mesa,” stated Assembly Member Hannah-Beth Jackson, a member of the Conservancy’s legislative board and a staunch advocate for preserving this spectacular bluff top property. “The extraordinary community effort is now being matched with a total of $8 million from the state, thereby doubling the state’s strong financial commitment to preserving the integrity of the undeveloped natural resources and coastal watersheds of Ellwood Mesa, which are of local, state and national importance,” she concluded.
“The Conservancy is pleased to support this terrific opportunity to add nearly a mile to the California Coastal Trail and protect valuable wildlife habitat and extraordinary coastal scenery,” stated Sam Schuchat, the Conservancy’s Executive Officer. “Once again the Trust for Public Land has demonstrated its skill in bringing together local communities, landowners, and government agencies to achieve our common goals.”
“This grant from the Coastal Conservancy is an incredibly significant boost that will act as a catalyst to raise the remaining $3 million needed to complete this acquisition,” stated Debra Geiler, Program Director for the Trust for Public Land. “We are all incredibly grateful to the Conservancy for its generosity in helping us to preserve the monarch butterfly groves, critical grasslands and foraging areas and spectacular vernal pools that make Ellwood Mesa. We also want to express our sincerest appreciation to Assembly Member Hannah-Beth Jackson who has worked, and continues to work, so diligently to ensure that people from all over California will be able to enjoy and appreciate these resources in perpetuity,” she concluded.
Currently threatened by development, Ellwood Mesa is zoned for residential use. A total of $20.4 million in public and private funding must be raised to purchase the property and make it available to the public. But because $20.4 million is only a portion of the estimated value of the mesa, the City of Goleta is completing the acquisition package by exchanging 36 acres of the adjacent City-owned property for the developer’s remaining interest in the mesa. Once acquired, Ellwood Mesa will be transferred to the City of Goleta to be managed together with the remainder of the existing Santa Barbara Shores Park.
At the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast, Ellwood Mesa is part of one of the most significant biological transition zones in the state. This past winter, over 40,000 Monarch butterflies clustered on the Eucalyptus groves in the Ellwood Main butterfly grove on the property, as part of their annual over wintering visit. The property is a cherished community asset and is used by local residents to walk, jog, bike, bird watch and to gain access to the beach. School children from all parts of the state also made their annual migration to the Mesa, to observe this real life phenomenon up close.
TPL, a national nonprofit land conservation organization, and its local partner, Friends of the Ellwood Coast (FOTEC), launched a private fundraising drive in January of 2003 and are continuing to accept donations towards the purchase. The public can find more information about TPL and the Ellwood Mesa property and campaign on-line, at www.tpl.org/cal. Those 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.