State grants more than $10 million to conserve ranch in Santa Margarita

February 23, 2024


A local conservation group is set to protect approximately 27,500 acres of grassland, blue oak savannah, shrubland and riparian corridors in rural Santa Margarita, according to California Department of Fish and Game.

Earlier this month, the Wildlife Conservation Board awarded a $10.3 million grant to The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County to protect the privately owned Camatta Ranch in rural Santa Margarita. Currently a cattle ranch and the home of Lazy Arrow Adventures – a guest ranch – the property encompasses more land than the City of San Fransisco.

However, some members of the Morrison family wanted to sell off sections of the ranch while others wanted to preserve the land for future generations. The grant provides funding for the ranch’s residents to buy out other family members while conserving the property.

The grant will protect habitat for 299 animal species and 250 native plant species, including Camatta Canyon amole plant, San Joaquin kit fox, Bell’s vireo and blunt-nosed leopard lizard among others. The project will also provide connectivity to protected land, open space and wildlife corridors extending from Carrizo Plain National Monument to the south and Big Sur to the north.

“In the heart of California’s Central Coast, the beautiful and diverse Camatta Ranch stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of a family and the power of partnerships to ensure its protection,” said Kaila Dettman, executive director for The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. “By conserving this working cattle ranch, composed of rolling grasslands, majestic oaks, and habitat for myriad wildlife species, we won’t just protect a 27,512-acre piece of land, but a critical wildlife corridor and refuge for those who visit.”

The Wildlife Conservation Board approved approximately $100 million in grants to 31 projects at its Feb. 15 quarterly meeting to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The grants will support Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal of conserving 30% of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030, an initiative known as 30×30.

The initiative seeks to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature for all Californians and address climate change.


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When you are already 68 billion in debt whats another 10 million here or there.

If they use tax payer dollars for rich people to not build, then the tax payer should have access to that land for recreation. Otherwise, it’s another example of wealth transfer to the rich land owners, like welfare.

“The initiative seeks to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature for all Californians and address climate change.”

Be ready for he next solar farm and wind turbine forest to sprout here, in the near future…

Generally these conservation easements do not allow this type of development on the land. The point is to keep the land semi wild.

When any organization, entity, or even “conservation group” claims their efforts in some way will address, fight, stop, hold back, or end “climate change”, you have to question their motives.

As stated in another comment, the land owners just got paid $10 million in tax dollars, to continue to use the land the same exact way as they have since the 1800’s. This, has only preserved $10 million!

Exactly how, when, and why could this possibly have any effect on climate change today, than it has in the last 175 years?

Another 27,000 acres in California with no hunting allowed. At the rate they’re going,anyone with any disabilities will have no hunting access left in this state.

California is awesome. There’s so much good to preserve.

Good news, for a change.

I’m not sure why this is good news. They are paying $10 million dollars to the wealthy landowners who will RETAIN ownership. All this does is compensate them $10 million to not subdivide the land or develop it. Was this land in BFE at any threat of overdevelopment!?

Are you kidding me. Yes, this land could have been subdivided with dire consequences for the flora and fauna of the area. Untainted land with this level of biodiversity is precious and $10 million is a small amount to protect it.

The fauna of the area, are mostly imported exotics from Africa and Asia. The indigenous species are being forced out. Farm wise, they cleared thousands of acres for food plots, and likely a vineyard or two. So your flora argument also is in doubt.

Surely you know where the water is going to come from? Maybe we all can sell an un-development trust to save on taxes with a family ever after living arrangement. Actually who owns property, it’s a right to pay taxes. The best deal anyone can get is a perpetual family trust easement with the right to fence and occupy property. Let the taxpayers own it but there is that sign the public will have to abide, No Trespassing. I used to laugh at the signs posted on the banks of Santa Margarita Lake, No Trespassing US Property.

I am pretty sure that the family is transferring ownership of the land to the trust. But part of the deal is they and their descendants get to live there forever. The idea is that it will never be developed.

I suppose if you want to see our county to look like Pasadena you should oppose this. I personally think this is an excellent way to keep the lands around the city off limits to housing development. I doubt the land would be developed in the next ten years anyway, but in thirty, there is a good chance it might.

That is not the case. Under the agreement, the ranch’s owners retain ownership, but sell the development rights to the land conservancy. The $10 million was given to the family so that they could buy out the other family members who wanted to sell off parts of the ranch.

This is great news for the continued owners and it would be interesting to know how many home sites were approved in this deal. A nearby property owner got $12 million with a approved number of residential entitlements for the owners too. Sweet deal from a different Conservation Trust they started. Maybe we can get the State to compensate the entirety of SLO county property owners to outline future development in the unincorporated areas. Once the Freeway is all fenced off, then the critters can happily live among us.

No wonder that State of California is broke throwing money around like this!