The historic Santa Rita Ranch in San Luis Obispo County was purchased by The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County (LCSLO), a non-profit land trust.
The 1,715-acre property, sitting at the top of Highway 46 West between the Pacific Ocean and Templeton, was purchased in December and is now permanently protected by The Land Conservancy.
The conservation effort began in 2018 when LCSLO partnered with The Conservation Fund. LCSLO said the property was being actively marketed and they needed time to raise money for the purchase so they asked The Conservation Fund to step in. The Fund was able to negotiate and acquire the ranch in May 2020 and then held the property for the remainder of the year when LCSLO was able to acquire the funds.
Three-quarters of the $8 million purchase price includes a $3.94 million grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board's Streamflow Enhancement Program. The organization borrowed from internal reserves to complete the purchase and conserve the Santa Rita Ranch forever. LCSLO continues to seek donations to fully fund this remarkable conservation project.
The Santa Rita Ranch features towering valley oaks, dense bay laurel forests, and a freshwater lake. Santa Rita Creek - the ranch's namesake - forms its headwaters here on its way to the Salinas River.
The organization will maintain the property as a wildlife preserve, sustainable working cattle ranch, and future nature education center. LCSLO will continue to lease the land to a rancher who grew up on the property and has run cattle there for many years.