Spring 2023 Carrizo lupine bloom by Jane Wei.

The Carrizo Plain Conservancy was incorporated under the laws of the State of California in October 2013.  In July 2014, we received our Recognition of Status as a Charitable Nonprofit corporation from the Internal Revenue Service and could formally begin business.  Since that time we have acquired through purchase, donation, or through partnership and are the current owner of 8,290 acres of land in the Carrizo Plain area, including Carrizo Plain National Monument.  

We have acquired some 480 acres of land which has subsequently been transferred to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  We have acquired approximately 182 acres of land within Carrizo Plain National Monument which has been or will be transferred into Federal ownership for incorporation into the National Monument.

The balance of the lands are managed in jointly with our partner land trust, Sequoia Riverlands Trust, as part of the mitigation program for the installation of the large solar facilities in the northern portion of the Carrizo Plain.  These lands are managed for wildlife habitat purposes, which has included habitat improvements to water sources, tree and shrub plantings, exotic species control, and other activities.

We are also working with the Nature Conservancy of California on a restoration program for an historic house inside the National Monument, known as the Goodwin House.  This residence, first built in the early 1900’s, is undergoing a variety of structural and cosmetic improvements to make it more usable for Nature Conservancy staff, invited researchers, and others.  Work has included upgrading of the plumbing system, a new well, exterior painting, and interior improvements.  Further improvements to the building and grounds are expected.

Finally, we have been working with the County of San Luis Obispo and the local California Valley Community Services District to undertake a long-envisioned program of acquisition of lots in the 7,000 lot subdivision which are known to have high environmental values, hazards such as flooding potential, or both.  Many lots in this old subdivision which dates from the 1960’s are in tax default; that is, owners have abandoned them and simply walked away.  We have also received donations from lot owners, and purchased a few lots from willing sellers.  We anticipate continuing and expanding this program in the future.

Our currently owned lands are valued conservatively at approximately $5.5 million.  Most of the land was donated as part of the solar facilities’ mitigation requirements, but is assigned value for insurance purposes.  However, we have also been the recipient of approximately $1 million over the last ten years for land acquisition and management purposes.

We are proud of our record of the past ten years, and we look forward with optimism to its continuation.

De-fencing project with Los Padres Forest Watch and volunteers. Photo by Los Padres Forest Watch

Thanks to Our Supporters and Partners Over the Years

There is a saying that people (and organizations) rise to great heights by standing on the shoulders of others.  Although not ready to claim “great heights” just yet, the Carrizo Plain Conservancy has achieved a lot.  But we could not have done it without the help and support of our partners.  These partners have included government agencies, other nonprofit organizations, and many individuals.  Money and land have been donated, opportunities created for joint projects, and educational program offered, all through this considerable and continued support.  Some of our major supporters and partners are:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy.  Local staff at CDFW have been one of our great supporters, providing funds for land acquisitions in several areas of the Carrizo Plain.  Over the years we have purchased approximately 660 acres of land in numerous parcels, the bulk of which have been transferred into State ownership, primarily for wildlife habitat purposes.  CDFW has provided funds for these purchases through a unique partnership with The Nature Conservancy, which holds certain mitigation funds designated for conservation of San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, tule elk, pronghorn antelope, and other notable wildlife species in the Carrizo Plain.  We have partnered with CDFW and TNC on no less than six such projects over the years, and others are in the works.

We have also independently worked with TNC on restoration of the historic Goodwin House within Carrizo Plain National Monument; including enhancement activities at the house, as well as the development of a new well to provide water to the house and to provide a source of water for wildlife in the area.  For this we are grateful to TNC, to the Bureau of Land Management, and particularly to Clearway Energy, operators of the California Valley Solar Ranch, who graciously supplied a grant of $12,000 to install a solar powered pump system onto the new well, and who patiently supported the project while it went through a lengthy permitting process.

Our major land management partner is Sequoia Riverlands Trust; Carrizo Plain Conservancy is the owner of record of the lands, and Sequoia Riverlands Trust provides the main land management activities, funded largely through an endowment associated with the solar facilities’ installation.  We jointly consider proposals for research and habitat improvements on the owned lands, and collaborate on other projects from time to time.

Another major supporter has been the Conservation Lands Foundation, which has provided general operational support to us for the last five years.  We are gratified by the support and the confidence in our work that it represents.

Finally, last but by no means least, are our individual supporters.  Over the years we have enjoyed the support of many families and individuals in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and other areas of California.  This has grown as awareness of the Monument and especially the spring wildflower blooms has grown.  Founding board member and director emeritus Doug Campbell has been our greatest supporter over the years (including a substantial donation received in the past two weeks), and he is joined by a solid cadre of other supporters who have contributed funds or volunteer support over the years.

To all of these wonderful folks and organizations, our deepest thanks for your commitment to the Carrizo Plain and your confidence in the work of the Carrizo Plain Conservancy.

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