The Land Trust of Santa Barbara County and Betteravia Farms joined forces to preserve wildlife habitats and grazing lands in the hills west of Orcutt and while also expanding agriculture along Highway 1.
The Land Trust has been working with Betteravia Farms for several years, helping them expand their farming, which has been difficult because the farm has an endangered species on their land. That species is the California Tiger Salamander, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Because the farm has an endangered species on their land, expanding has been difficult because the two departments are concerned that an expansion could hurt the California Tiger Salamander.
“Working with federal agencies and an endangered species I think has been really difficult for landowners, for generations,” Land Trust Executive Director Chet Work said. “For this species, in particular, I think a lot of local families have felt somewhat hampered by the presence of the species. I feel like what we do with the Land Trust is to find creative ways to meet the family’s needs while also respecting the habitat for that species, we broker a balance.”
After two years, the Land Trust and Betteravia Farms have found a way to expand their farm, while protecting the endangered species.
The deal is that Betteravia Farms will be able to farm in about 270 acres of their land in exchange for forever conserving about 470 acres so that the California Tiger Salamander is protected.
“The Endangered Species Act was key in providing a mechanism for collaboration between our agency and a private landowner,” Rachel Henry, a fish and wildlife biologist with the Service in Ventura, said. “We worked with the Land Trust and Betteravia to come up with an innovative project that provides a great conservation benefit for the California tiger salamander, and meets the needs of the landowner.”
The Land Trust said they have helped to preserve more than 27,000 acres of natural resource and working land in Santa Barbara County including the Arroyo Hondo Preserve and Sedgwick Reserve.