Take Action to Preserve the Gaviota Coast
Welcome!! This website is intended to provide a clearinghouse for people concerned about the future of the Gaviota Coast. Formed with the support of the Naples Coalition and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, this site offers a comprehensive calendar of hearings and public comment opportunities for various Gaviota development projects. Follow the links to get detailed information about various projects and how you can participate. We’ll provide links to email decisionmakers and explain the important issues.
Please sign up for Action Alerts so we can provide you timely information about the many hearings and opportunities affecting the Gaviota Coast.
April 22, 2011 NEW!
BIXBY RANCH PLOWS UNDER COASTAL SAGE AND THE ENDANGERED GAVIOTA TAR PLANT
In late January, GCC received a report that large areas of coastal sage habitat were being removed on the Bixby Ranch in violation of the Coastal Act, and without a County permit. We learned that the Coastal Commission staff had been unsuccessful at investigating the report due to a lack of public access to this area of the coast. Without seeing the activity they would be unable to enforce Coastal Act policies which protect these resources, and the County couldn't investigate the matter without reliable information from a complainant. GCC turned to its partner LightHawk for help. LightHawk is a non-profit with a crew of environmental pilots who provide flight services to other environmental groups. LightHawk flew Mike Lunsford of GCC, and Heather Johnston of the Coastal Commission over the area to investigate the circumstances. Photos were taken of large areas that had been stripped of vegetation, from Cojo Point to some of the hills in the Jalama Creek watershed. This appeared to go beyond agricultural activity. It included unprecedented hilltop clearing where conditions are unsuitable for farming, but are desirable as residential building sites.
The photographic evidence obtained on this flight fueled an investigation which has since expanded to include the California Department of Fish & Game, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In 2002, the Fish & Wildlife Service designated a large portion of the Bixby Ranch as critical habitat for the tar plant in an effort to save it from extinction. Along with the destruction of coastal sage habitat, Gaviota tar plant was plowed under. Gaviota tar plant is a local endemic plant found only on the Gaviota Coast. Even an area previously revegetated with indigenous species as mitigation for an oil company project was denuded. Among other things, the agencies must determine if a "taking" of an endangered species occurred in violation of state and federal law.
On April 20th, GCC learned that County Counsel determined that the destruction of this rare habitat and the taking of this endangered species fell within an exemption for agriculture in the Coastal Zoning Ordinance. This activity would have been subject to a permit if the County had adopted their new, Coastal Commission certified, Land Use Development Code. They didn't adopt it because of complaints from growers who felt such permits would be too burdensome. But, without the screening of the permitting process, the County is unable to protect the increasingly precious, natural resources of the Gaviota Coast. This incident is a glaring example of that.
We will update this site as new information becomes available.
INFORMATION ABOUT NAPLES TRAIL CLOSURES AND BLOCKED ACCESS
For information about trails near Naples, see the Coastal Access page.
A unique and imperiled area
The Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County, California, lies between Coal Oil Point in Goleta and Point Sal near Lompoc, and includes the coastal watersheds from the top of the ridge to the ocean.
The coastal Mediterranean ecosystems of the world are among the world's most threatened environments. The Gaviota Coast is the largest intact remnant of such an environment in the United States.
The Southern California Coastal Province (Pt. Conception to Mexico) contains the highest density of imperiled species of anywhere in the U.S.
While the Gaviota Coast represents only 15% of the 300-mile Southern California coastline, it contains about 50% of its remaining rural coastline. Even though most of the Southern California coastal areas have been dramatically altered and biologically degraded by expanding human occupation, the Gaviota Coast retains a high degree of biodiversity. This is true because of three key factors: natural and agricultural landscapes still prevail, the area is a transition zone between two distinct ecoregions, and the Santa Ynez Mountains serve as an effective wildlife migration corridor from large interior wildlands.