August 10, 2022 |Steve Hobbs | Land

Golden State of Mind: Conserving California

California’s diverse and vast landscapes require unique expertise and adaptable conservation solutions. Luckily, The Conservation Fund is up for the challenge. Our nimble and strategic approach to conservation has well equipped us for completing some of the most critically important conservation projects in California.

To date, we’ve completed over 100 projects conserving roughly 573,000 acres across the state. Take a look at some of our most effective and impactful efforts across California in recent history.

Lone Pine Ranch

Photo courtesy of Hall & Hall.

This gorgeous ranch landscape in Mendocino and Trinity counties goes by many names, including “Lone Pine Ranch,” the “former Dean Witter ranch” and even the “Grand Canyon of the Eel River.” Regardless of what you call it, the 30,000-acre property is of national park quality and is rich with biodiversity and history. The ranch features 18 miles of Eel River frontage, a resident elk herd and portions of the future Great Redwood Trail. The land was formerly owned by American businessman and stockbroker, Dean Witter, and his descendants. Now, thanks to our work with the Wildlands Conservancy, it will become a recreational haven for nature lovers across the country. This effort was featured in The Land Report Spring 2022 Edition. You can also learn more here.

Our North Coast Forests

Pictured left: Big River Forest. Photo by Rachid Dahnoun. Pictured right: Northern spotted owl. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.

California is known for many things, but one of its biggest attractions is the state’s great redwood trees. The redwood region has remarkable raw beauty and rich wildlife habitat, but decades of aggressive harvesting, changing timber owners and encroaching development have left this landscape diminished with heavy impact on the spotted owls, salmon and other species that call it home. By sustainably managing over 74,000 acres of these forests in Northern California, we’ve been able to conserve habitat, protect waterways and accelerate growth of the forests that are critical to capturing carbon from the atmosphere and fighting climate change, all while supporting the region’s timber and recreational economies. Learn more.

Santa Rita Ranch

Photos courtesy of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.

When this 1,700-acre ranch with towering oak trees, a 30-acre lake and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean went up for sale, we knew we had to move quickly to protect the property and its ranching legacy before it was too late. With a unique conservation approach, we worked with the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County to protect the landscape while also maintaining its active cattle grazing, which is essential for mitigating fire risk and supporting local ranchers. The property contains waterways essential to the health of Monterey Bay — the nation’s largest marine sanctuary. The watershed refreshes water supplies for communities such as Salinas and Monterey and provides habitat for the endangered steelhead. Learn more.

Richmond’s Harbour-8 Park

Photos courtesy of Pogo Park.

Few states have done more to conserve land than California. Yet these protected lands are often not located where people live and work. California’s cities need urban greenspaces to support the health and wellbeing of those who call them home. One city that lacked such sanctuaries is the City of Richmond, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. To help address the city’s dire need for parkland, we partnered with Pogo Park, a nonprofit that empowers the local community to transform abandoned city spaces into vibrant public parks for Richmond’s residents. Together, we are expanding Harbour-8 Park and will continue to work together to provide equitable access to urban greenspaces for all of Richmond’s residents. Learn more.

Poppy Fields of Walker Canyon

Poppies bloom at Walker Canyon. Photo by Ivan LaBianca.

In 2019, due to an unusually heavy rain season, a large, relatively unknown poppy field shocked Southern California with a one-of-a-kind super bloom. Covering hillsides in bright orange and yellow blossoms, the Walker Canyon poppy field attracted more than 800,000 visitors, photographers and nature lovers for nearly a month-long poppy-field frenzy. In addition to serving as a yearly tourist attraction, these fields also support wildlife like the Stephen’s kangaroo rat — which, due to the extensive efforts of many conservationists over the past 30 years, was recently reclassified from endangered to threatened. We purchased the land from a long-time private landowner who wanted us to help establish a long-term conservation solution for it. Now, Walker Canyon will remain conserved and open for public enjoyment for decades to come. Learn more.

San Diego Foodshed Solutions: Solidarity Farms & Project New Village

Mt. Hope Community Garden. Photo by Eder Escamilla.

Unique conservation solutions can improve access to healthy, fresh foods — a challenge in several urban communities in San Diego. Two examples that we’ve supported include Solidarity Farm’s “Food Shed” and Project New Village’s Mt. Hope Community Garden. These community-led initiatives make produce and food more accessible to the people in their neighborhoods. “Food Shed” is a cooperative effort among growers to provide a hub in the City Heights neighborhood that buys fresh produce from farms across San Diego County and brings it to underserved communities. Similarly, Mt. Hope Community Garden in Southeastern San Diego is a space that promotes sustainable agriculture for communities that lack reasonable access to nearby, healthy foods.

To learn more about our conservation work in California or to support future efforts like the ones above, please reach out to Samaria Jaffe and/or consider a donation today.

Written by

Steve Hobbs

Steve Hobbs is The Conservation Fund’s California State Director. Steve joined The Conservation Fund in 2012, and he has nearly three decades of conservation experience working for non-profit organizations and government around the country. A hallmark of Steve’s work has been finding conservation solutions that allow for economic development. This entails everything from developing conservation strategies for working lands to integrated compensatory mitigation projects. In his free time, Steve’s interests include fishing, bird hunting, baseball and flying.