County Gem at Point Sal Preserved

Santa Barbara Foundation Secures Remaining Funds for Vital Conservation Project

Twenty miles of pristine, wild coastal dunes protected at Point Sal and Paradise Beach. Image courtesy of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.

In a remarkable collaboration between the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, the County of Santa Barbara, and leading conservation and funding partners, the last unprotected land parcel in the 800-acre Point Sal Reserve has been added to the existing open space designated for permanent protection, conservation, and stewardship. Located near Paradise Beach in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes complex on the central coast, the Point Sal Reserve is 20 miles of pristine, wild coastal dunes that are unlike anything else in the world.

This last privately owned parcel in the Point Sal Reserve area is known as the Tognazzini Property. The Swiss-Italian Noe Tognazzini family homesteaded the parcel at the turn of the century, and it has been in their ownership and care ever since. The cabin on the property burned in the 1960s, but family members have continued to visit and share this scenic spot with groups such as the Boy Scouts of America. The family is gratified their property will complete the Point Sal Reserve and that the site of their original homestead will be preserved.

The Tognazzini property will connect existing parts of the Point Sal Reserve to create sweeping contiguous landscapes where habitat and wildlife corridors, scenic vistas, and open space will be preserved for future generations. This stretch of land is also culturally and environmentally significant. It includes a mile of white sand beach and a eucalyptus grove that serves as a nesting site for monarch butterflies and sea birds. It also provides an important wetland habitat for numerous native wildlife and plant species.

This exceptional conservation milestone was made possible due to a significant collaboration of federal, state, and county governments; nonprofit conservation organizations; and passionate donor partners. It is an extraordinary story of committed people coming together for the common good.

“Rarely does a conservation opportunity like this present itself,” said Bob Hill, executive director of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. “To be able to preserve a legacy homestead, preserve historical artifacts, protect important habitats, and provide for future generations is indeed a dream come true.”

The $3.6 million needed to complete the project with the Tognazzini family came from multiple funding sources including the California State Coastal Conservancy, NOAA Coastal Estuarine and Land Conservation Program, the U.S. Department of Defense, REPI for Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Guadalupe Natural Resources Restoration Trust funds, and the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.

Nearing a looming deadline in late 2011, the project still needed a small but critical piece of funding that had yet to be secured. The partners needed $125,000 to finalize this complicated land deal that had been years in the making. “Sometimes the last ten yards can be the hardest ones,” said Hill.

When the foundation learned this vital conservation project was coming up short, it got to work identifying foundation fundholders and donors with interest in conservation. Within weeks, Judy and Jack Stapelmann and Sheri and Jack Overall had stepped up to the challenge. With their support, and a matching grant from the foundation, the remaining funds for the project were secured.

“This is a stellar example of a collaboration that has many partners and adds so much to our community,” said Ron Gallo, foundation president & CEO. “This amazing story of philanthropy is an outstanding example of government, private philanthropy, nonprofits, and donors all coming together to have profound impact on our community. The result is a treasure that will forever bring us value.”
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