A 540-acre ranch between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay will be protected from development thanks to an agreement between the landowners, the Buckinghams, and The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.
“Really this is about protecting local food, and agriculture, protecting our heritage,” said Kaila Dettman, executive director. “It’s working with land owners to come to solutions where they can continue to own and operate their land and use it for whatever they want to use it for with their families.”
The voluntary conservation easement covers Cerro Alto Ranch and includes the entire slope of Hollister Peak from Turri Road to Hollister’s summit.
The agreement does not allow for public access as the ranch is still privately owned. However, The Land Conservancy says it will be able to host docent-led hikes on the ranch each year.
Under the agreement, the existing livestock operation will continue and residential development is reduced to two homes. Subdivision of the property will not be allowed.
“When I first came to California, I just happened to stop right in front of that piece of property and thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to own a big piece of this property in this area and just keep it this way forever,” recalled Jeff Buckingham.
The new conservation easement is part of an effort by The Land Conservancy to preserve “a path through the Los Osos Valley,” said Dettman. It reportedly brings the total number of acres conserved in and around the Los Osos Valley to 1,600. That includes the 130-acre Kandarian Farms easement, which was completed in September 2018.
“It’s part of a bigger framework. We’re working to protect all of Los Osos Valley.”
The Cerro Alto Ranch conservation easement was reportedly funded by the Camp San Luis Obispo Army Compatible Use Buffer Program, which aims to protect land next to the base from significant land use change.
“The idea that that place, and so many people love Turri Road, that it can be that way forever is just a wonderful feeling,” Buckingham said.