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Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint Prepares for Launch with Public Input Meetings in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria

Santa Barbara County’s landscape is a rich tapestry of forested mountain peaks, rolling verdant hills, pasture and agricultural lands, and sweeping coastlines. The natural and diverse beauty of the county enhances quality of life for residents and visitors alike and supports a strong regional economy. The mixture of highly productive agriculture lands and natural habitats with an impressive array of plants and animals is increasingly unique to southern California. Facing growing pressure from development and climate changes, these ecological and agricultural resources are worthy of a more robust and coordinated conservation effort.

This is exactly why the Santa Barbara Foundation LEAF Initiative joined the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and the Cachuma Resource Conservation District, along with other community partners, to develop the Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint. The Blueprint will be the first comprehensive compilation of the natural resource and land assets in the county designed to inform conversations about the future of the region and transform how to approach conservation and development in the future.

“The Blueprint will provide a common language and source of information that anyone will be able to access,” said Sharyn Main, Senior Director of Community Investments at the Santa Barbara Foundation. “We hope it will inspire greater collaboration and trust and be as beneficial to farmers and ranchers, housing advocates or energy developers as it will be to conservation practitioners.”

Creation of the Blueprint over the past 18 months has been a two-part process that started with the collection of science-based spatial data for an online mapping ‘atlas’ that will be available to the pubic beginning this summer. The project has also been assessing community values, trends and tension points through interviews, focus groups and public meetings to better understand what the maps tell us and what resources and assets are particularly important to keeping Santa Barbara County a beautiful, desirable and healthy place to live and work. The Blueprint report and online atlas are scheduled for release in July.

The project partners each bring an important perspective to the Blueprint and plan to use it to develop their respective long-term strategic plans. The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, which was founded in 1985 and has protected over 24,000 acres of rolling hills, working ranches and farms, watersheds and coastal bluffs in Santa Barbara County, knows that having the ability to select projects strategically based on sound science and community need using the Blueprint is critical to growing their mission.

“The Blueprint process has been incredibly valuable for the Land Trust,” said Chet Work, Executive Director of the Land Trust. “The ability to engage with the community and hear firsthand about the agricultural, natural and recreational resources that are most treasured will drive the direction of our organization for the next 25 years.”

Having worked closely with agriculture since the 1940s, the Cachuma Resource Conservation District (CRCD) brings a deep understanding of the needs and challenges faced by owners and operators of working lands in the county that has been beneficial to shaping the Blueprint. The CRCD promotes land stewardship ethics for the long-term sustainable use of natural resources, and along with their federal partner the Natural Resource Conservation Service, have brought in over $100 million in support of local conservation projects.

“The Blueprint will help ascertain the needs and concerns of the community and allow us to develop strategic goals for our future work, including identifying funding sources to address specific resource protection and improvement opportunities,” said Anna Olsen, Executive Director of the Cachuma Resource Conservation District.

To showcase the Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint project to a broader audience, two public events are being offered in April. The first is on Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30pm at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu Street, and the second event is on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30pm at the Santa Maria Library, 421 S. McClelland Street. Attendees will be able to preview and explore the Blueprint report and online atlas, provide feedback on information collected on key conservation opportunities and challenges in the county, and help shape the future of the project. For more information and to register for these events, please visit and click on “April Input Meetings.”

To learn more about the Santa Barbara Foundation LEAF Initiative or the Conservation Blueprint project, contact Sharyn Main at (805) 880-9352 or
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:  (805) 963-1873  |  1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101