Thanks to Wild Cherry Canyon supporters

May 16, 2013

irish hillsLetter from KARA BLAKESLEE

Greetings, friends and long-time supporters of Wild Cherry Canyon.

As you’ve probably heard, plans to add the 2400-acre coastal Wild Cherry Canyon property to Montana de Oro State Park have fallen through.

It’s been a long road, with a hard ending. But the bottom line is that the leaseholders (who own the rights to use the land for the next 150 or so years) have not extended the option to purchase, and thus we are not able to buy the property interests.

Nor can we, today, open up a 20-mile extension of the California Coastal Trail through the Irish Hills. I’m so sorry.

I’m writing to you today to say thank you for all your hopeful efforts. Thank you for helping fund the management endowment and purchase, and for sponsoring the project, writing letters on its behalf, and donating your precious time to assist State Parks had it been able to acquire this scenic land. We are so grateful.

It is my sincere hope that the story of Wild Cherry Canyon is not at its end.

Recently, the leaseholders have made public their interest in developing the land. Perhaps they will change their mind and return for another attempt at conservation, be it with State Parks or another entity. Or, perhaps, mitigation for a development might ultimately lead to public access of some sort; time will tell.

But as stated by The Tribune, “We have a rare opportunity to preserve an undeveloped stretch of California coastline.” We urge you to keep an eye on Wild Cherry Canyon and make sure that any decisions affecting the land are consistent with the law, the county’s land use principles, and the needs of the community.

Finally, with WCC on (hopefully temporary) hiatus, I will now be supporting local conservation efforts through the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. I would like to provide this long-standing conservation organization with the contact information I’ve used for all of you in the Wild Cherry Canyon effort. If that’s a problem – please let me know and I will be sure to redact your name from our list. If you allow us to keep your information, you’ll be hearing from me or the Land Conservancy from time to time regarding other, awe-inspiring conservation opportunities.

The outcome of WCC has been very disappointing; but your continued support of local conservation may be the cloud’s silver lining, that continues to inspire.

With sincere gratitude for your years of support, and heartfelt regret for not being able to make WCC a State Parks reality,

Kara Woodruff Blakeslee is a volunteer with Friends of Wild Cherry Canyon and a longtime advocate of conservation efforts.

P.S. Here are the links two recent Tribune coverage of WCC’s plan and its fall through.

P.S.S. Know someone who wants to join our local conservation efforts? If so, please provide the contact information and we’ll keep them informed, too!


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A lot of people won’t like my reply here but thats the way it goes.

I personally am sick and tired of some organization or people buying up private property and “selling” it to the state for a profit, therefore taking it out of the tax rolls, quite a bit of the ranch land between Cayucos and Cambria is no longer in private hands, the county is losing quite a sum of tax revenue because of this, the state doesn’t need anymore “park “property the people don’t need another 2400 acres to wonder around on and the state can’t keep the parks it has open because of budget cuts.

Buying property because it is so scenic,pristine or what ever is getting to be old mantra, all property is scenic, thats not a reason to buy it and then let it sit idle for years, perfect example is the Hollister ranch just north of Cuesta Collage, it has been idled for 7 or 8 years while the fish and wildlife figure out a management plan, meanwhile nothing but trash looks to be growing on the land and it is not useful to anyone at this point, there are no cattle on it,no crops being grown on it, no one living on it, and NO TAX monies being paid on it, now how much sense does this make.

I for one an glad that this buyout has failed.

It’s easy to make a blanket criticism of conservation, what with developers typically buying up scenic parcels and threatening to develop, only to sell out to conservation groups at grossly inflated prices, as they had planned to do all along, but to blame the conservation groups is wrong, as they represent the public will which supports protection. You personally may not support protection of resources, scenic or environmental, but the majority of Californians have and still do support protection. Hence the conservation groups, and hence the scheming developers.

As to the complaint about the property being taken off the tax rolls, I think you should talk with some of the long-time ranching families who have come to realize that their land can no longer support them and their growing families, and who have worked with conservation groups to enable them to continue ranching their land (by selling of development rights). This supports conservation, and the land continues to be productive.

I am from a ranching family here on the coast and the taxes are not the problem if you got into the Williamson Act, its too many people with their nose in our business thats killing us.

If the property is developed to a small degree the tax benifit goes up considerable.

Your example of the Hollister Ranch is exactly what I was referring to. Yet you don’t respond to my comment about developers buying up properties then threatening to develop (in the Hollister Ranch case, which you must know well, they wanted a resort w/ golf course before the Land Conservancy took the bait and engineered a purchase deal for protection.

My question to you is simply this: of the possible future outcomes, which would you prefer?

1) golf course & resort

or . . .

2) land temporarily recovering from farming, while awaiting a management plan (which could very well include a farming lease.

There is no third option, if you’re reality-based.

It looks to me like this land has been “preserved” by good stewardship. Given the regulatory climate in California with the Coastal Commission, land use rules, etc., it will be a cold day in hell before this property is ever developed. Meanwhile they pay taxes on it. Looks like a win win to me. Go hike elsewhere on the hundreds if not thousands of miles of trails we already have.

This would have been a very unique trail connecting Montana de Oro to Avila. The views from the ridge tops would have been tremendous.

I am sad to see it fail and even sadder that it failed due to political posturing rather than real economic reasons. The funding to purchase the right-of-way was there. The labor to make and maintain the trail was to be volunteer. The only holdup (from what I heard) is that someone in state gov’t was concerned about the APPEARANCES if the state were to expand Montana de Oro this way during the current economic situation. This type of “image protection” happens when perceptions become more important than actual facts in political campaigns.

Most likely the development will be out of sight and thus not subject to Coastal Commission review, as long as it complies with County coastal land use policy, which can be pretty toothless in a remote area like this. The biggest constraints will likely be geological—soils and steepness of slopes, not public views. But please, don’t let me rain on your paranoia!

Although I am in favor of public trails when offered by a willing party, forcing a trail through a private ranch is no diffierent than forcing 2400 acres of homes in SLO to remove all fencing so that the public can just walk through your yard.

The land belongs to PG&E who swindled it out of the Marre Family for Diablo Canyon. Current lessee’s just want to make more money off it now that economy has improved. Hopefully the public will get access down the road, the trail would be an incredible coastal link.