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What’s New - June, 2018

We have had an eventful 2018 so far, and ask for your continued support for our conservation programs in the Carrizo Plain. Here are the highlights.

Adding (Again!) to the National Monument Through The “Section 14” Project In the last year CPC has acquired by purchase or gift five parcels of land in the middle of Carrizo Plain National Monument (Section 14, Township 11N, Range 26W). An area of Section 14 possesses excellently preserved native vegetation and occupies about 120 acres that was subdivided manyimage 1 years ago, with lots ranging in size from 1/6 acre to 20 acres. About a quarter of the area is already conserved, and the site shows promise for more complete protection. The existence of the old subdivision spared this acreage from being cleared for agriculture, so it stands as a sort of reference area for what was once there. A letter will be sent to the 50 or so landowners in that area, asking them to consider the donation of their properties (which are not really developable) to add to the conserved acreage. The goal is to ultimately transfer the lands to BLM for incorporation into the Monument.

There are several other old subdivisions within the Monument that are also suitable for “Section 14” like solicitations that we are investigating, too.

CPC has sent a letter to the BLM Bakersfield Office offering to donate five Section 14 parcels along with an additional 12 parcels of land (for a total of 17) within Carrizo Plain National Monument, which range in size from 1/6 acre to 105 acres (and total about 140 acres, as most of the lots are small) for inclusion into Carrizo Plain National Monument. The parcels were all purchased with private donations from local individuals and a grant from the Oakland-based California Wildlife Foundation, or were donated as gifts, and demonstrate the continuing interest and dedication of citizens to the Monument and its permanent protection.

Partnering for KIT FOX with California Department of Fish and Wildlife CPC continues a image 2successful partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). In November of 2017 CPC acquired a 160-acre property along Highway 58 that is considered excellent San Joaquin kit fox habitat, and is in the process of fencing the property and transferring ownership to CDFW. We have alsoimage 3 just closed escrow on an adjacent 320-acre property with the same intention. Together with other adjacent lands already owned by CDFW, these acquisitions will create a 900-acre kit fox preserve in the northern part of the Carrizo Plain. We are excited by these opportunities and look forward to further consolidation of this sanctuary.

The Fourth Carrizo Colloquium was attended by almost 60 Carrizophiles this past May at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library Meeting Room. Subjects explored include:

  • Studies of the relationship between rainfall and giant kangaroo rat population dynamics.
  • Results of testing of mineral content of soils around Soda Lake, exploring its past as a very large pluvial lake during the Ice Ages.
  • Results of studies directed at improving seedling germination and survival of saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa), the dominant shrub on the floor of Carrizo Plain.
  • Status of the pronghorn and elk herds in the Carrizo Plain; and
  • Status of the new San Luis Obispo County cannabis ordinance, and its enforcement, particularly as it affects endangered species habitat in the California Valley area.

image 4Presentations can be found at https://ecologistics.org/carrizo-colloquium/.

The next Colloquium is planned for late Fall, 2019. Expect more new presentations on matters currently under investigation in the Carrizo Plain area. Mark your calendars!.

Goodwin Ranch House and Grounds In what may amount to a seminal change for our organization, CPC is working with the Nature Conservancy of California on a plan to transfer ownership of the historic Goodwin Ranch house and grounds from the Nature Conservancy to CPC and to “repurpose” the house as a base for research workers working on projects in Carrizo Plain National Monument and nearby, and as a venue for events celebrating the Monument. This will set new directions for CPC and we believe will give the organization a much higher profileimage 5 in the area. Our consulting architect, Cal Poly professor Ken Haggard, has prepared a conceptual plan for the house to accommodate this change in function. Ken reports that the house is in very good condition considering its age and will not require any significant structural repairs or reconstruction to accomplish that effort.

Las Piletas Ranch. And there always has to be a bright star on the horizon, one that you can go after, even if it is a long shot. In our case, that is the beautiful Las Piletas Ranch, a 13,570-acre ranch connecting the Carrizo Plain with Los Padres National Forest.image 6

image 7Containing oak woodlands, wetlands along the San Juan River, extensive grasslands and even some dryland agriculture, the property is on the market for $17,250,000, but hey, what’s a few bucks? We are working with several other conservation organizations, including the California Department of Fish and Game, Trust for Public Land, California Wildlife Foundation, Bill Gates Foundation, and Sequoia Riverlands Trust in an effort to pull together the funds to purchase all or part of the property, and place a conservation easement on its entirety. One approach that shows promise is to purchase the property in two pieces; as can be seen from the accompanying map, the ranch is divided by a 5,000-acre area of public land known as Freeborn Mountain; the area to the east is on the northwest corner of the Carrizo Plain and is home to pronghorn antelope, San Joaquin kit fox, and (recently arrived) giant kangaroo rats, whose range appears to be moving north and west in the area. We are looking very carefully at this possibility, with a second purchase of the western portion of the ranch to follow.

Please support these conservation efforts in the Carrizo Plain!

We need your continued help and support to continue to move forward on these and other projects in the Carrizo Plain. Please send your contribution--$25, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford--to Carrizo Plain Conservancy, P.O. Box 274, San Luis Obispo, CA. 93406, or here. (insert live link…) http://www.carrizoplainconservancy.org/index.php/ways-to-give)

Thanks to all of our recent supporters, who helped make the above events a reality:

Individuals: Steve Ackerman; David and Naomi Blakely; Barbara Bonadeo; Ron and Celia Book; Vicki Bookless; Jamie and Jonica Bushman; David and Linda Chipping; Dayna Connor; Charles and Jackie Crabb; Don and Ellen Dollar; Terre Dunivant; Lee and Val Endres; Carol Florence; Keith and Wendy George; Ken and Suzan Hampian; Judith Hildinger; Bob Hill; V. L. Holland; Beverly James; Jeffrey Jorgensen; David Keil; Armand Kuris and Bari Ramoy; Jan and Steven Marx; Pandora Nash-Karner; Jim Patterson; Emily Penfield; Carroll Pearson; J. Skorupa; Richard Snodey; Harrison Starr; Bill Statler; Brian Stark; Katy Stephens; Ken Tab; Dirk Walters; Arthur and Marcia Walker; and Bill and Diana Waycott.

Organizations: California Wildlife Foundation; Conservation Lands Foundation; San Luis Obispo County Chapter California Native Plant Society; San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the Wildlife Society; Biodiversity First! North County Watch; Althouse and Meade; H.T. Harvey & Associates; County of San Luis Obispo.

Persons who have donated property: Jean Brown; Cleo Constantin; Daniel Delgado; Fernando Delgado; Mary Hanson; Roberta Peterson; Tammy Steinsapir; and Paige Thiel.

And finally, our Board members who have all donated time, expertise, and financial resources: LynneDee Althouse; Candice Bell; Doug Campbell; Anne Fairchild; Neil Havlik; Dorothy Jennings; Herb Stroh; and Steph Wald.

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42 acres donated to Carrizo Plain National Monument

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The Carrizo Plain Conservancy announces that it has donated a 42-acre parcel of private land with a quarter-mile of shoreline on Soda Lake to the United States of America for inclusion in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

While Interior Department officials in Washington, D. C., consider shrinking or doing away with national monuments in California, the citizens of California and the Central Coast continue to support the Carrizo Plain National Monument with their pocketbooks and volunteer efforts.

The recent addition was purchased in 2015 entirely with private funds donated by many citizens and a grant from the Oakland-based California Wildlife Foundation. The property had been the victim of illegal dumping over the years and so it was cleaned up with removal of over 11 tons of trash, also paid for with private donations.

The Carrizo Plain Conservancy has also offered to donate 13 additional parcels of land within current monument boundaries to the United States. These properties were recently purchased again entirely with private funds.

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Growing Our Partnership with the Sequoia Riverlands Trust

It takes a village to conserve important lands that connect wildlife corridors to keep landscapes and their ecosystems resilient. CPC is delighted to be adding the Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) to our portfolio of partners (www.sequoiariverlandstrust.org).

image 1SRT recently became the Conservation Land Manager of property set aside during the construction of solar plants on the Carrizo Plain. Together, CPC and SRT are restoring lands that improve wildlife habitat and enables both organizations to combine financial forces, leveraged with grants and gifts.

Our first project is to improve and enhance a watering hole that currently looks like this.

After we’re done, both wildlife and cattle will be able to access water downslope and the hillside vegetation will be allowed to return after fencing is installed to restrict cattle at the actual springs.

The final watering site is envisioned to look like this and will include a wildlife ramp for small birds and mammals.image 2

Please consider making a donation to the Buttonwillow Springs project in any amount. Every drop counts these days and your dollars will allow CPC/SRT to do more with less.

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CPC Gets Grant to Update the Northern Carrizo’s Conceptual Area Protection Plan (CAPP)

The CPC has received a grant that will allow us to update the Northern Carrizo’s CAPP. Once updated, the CAPP will be used to line up funding for conservation acquisition. The funding comes from the Wildlife Conservation Board. According to their website, the WCB:

image 4was created by legislation in 1947 to administer a capital outlay program for wildlife conservation and related public recreation. Originally created within the California Department of Natural Resources, and later placed with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, WCB is a separate and independent Board with authority and funding to carry out an acquisition and development program for wildlife conservation (California Fish and Game Code 1300, et seq.). WCB consists of the President of the Fish and Game Commission, the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Director of the Department of Finance. The primary responsibilities of WCB are to select, authorize and allocate funds for the purchase of land and waters suitable for recreation purposes and the preservation, protection and restoration of wildlife habitat. WCB approves and funds projects that set aside lands within the State for such purposes, through acquisition or other means, to meet these objectives.

The updated CAPP will include all the lands that were part of the recent acquisitions and set asides that occurred pursuant to the construction of the solar plants on the Carrizo. Updating the CAPP provides the WCB a renewed and updated perspective on where best to place conservation dollars on the Carrizo to benefit wildlife.

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CPC Now owns over 8000 acres of solar preservation lands

image 3The CPC recently took possession of the Topaz Settlement Lands and the California Valley Solar Ranch Settlement Lands, totally over 8000 acres. We are barely completing our third year of operation, a hearty accomplishment for such a young land trust. Owing to being in the right place at the right time, this transaction was made possible by the goodwill of many and the hard work of Board President Neil Havlik and Board Vice President Herb Stroh who both reviewed many documents to secure CPC’s due diligence to complete the transactions. We’ll be working in partnership with Sequoia Riverlands Trust who will serve as the conservation lands manager for both preserves. Stay tuned for naming the preserves!!

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