3,255 acres of land donated to SLO County preservation - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

3,255 acres of land donated to SLO County preservation

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An agreement ten years in the making has created the largest conservation easement gift in The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County's history.

3,255 acres south of Atascadero has traditionally been used as agricultural land but will now forever be protected by The Land Conservancy.

In a celebration of preservation, local and state officials came together in Santa Margarita Thursday to welcome the more than 3,200 acres into The Land Conservancy's protection. 

“It means whatever winds of change politically or anything like that, the ranch will stay protected into the future even with changes in ownership,” says Kaila Dettman, the Executive Director of The Land Conservancy. “It will be there for generations to come.”

The ranch area is 36 separate parcels making up the 3,255 acres. It is filled with streams, cattle range land, agriculture, and the man-made Eagle Lake. 

“This will protect water resources, provide homes for wildlife, and provide a place for ranching to be viable and prolific,” says Dettman.

The donors, Eagle Ranch LLC, brothers Greg and Jeff Smith, are preserving a piece of history while keeping this land protected.

“The land has been in our family since about 1965 when our grandparents purchased the ranch,” says Jeff Smith. 

It then was passed down to the Smith brothers' aunt who then gifted it to Greg, Jeff, and their two sisters. It has been the home for a large herd of cattle and this conservation will allow the land to continue to work as a California cattle ranch.

“It has all of the oak trees and the pastures and we have a nice little lake on it, but basically, it is quintessential California,” says Smith.

Under this agreement, the land will continue to be used as a working cattle ranch under Eagle Ranch LLC; however, it will be protected from future development by The Land Conservancy.

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County is a local non-profit land trust which protects and restores local landscapes. 

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