Framed by the Channel Islands, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs and a host of elected officials gathered this morning to announce an ambitious fundraising campaign to purchase and protect up to 21 acres of prized coastal open space that has been threatened by development for more than a decade. Known as Carp Bluffs III, the property is part of the greater Carpinteria Bluffs network, consisting of approximately 100 acres.
Led by these well-known conservation organizations, this effort to raise the necessary funds is nothing new to this tight knit community.
“When our organization formed in 1996, hundreds of residents joined together to prevent development from spoiling this treasured natural resource,” said Arturo Tello, President of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs. “Today, as we launch the public fundraising campaign to preserve Carp Bluffs III, we do so with the knowledge that the people of Carpinteria and the south coast continue to stand with us.”
One can trace community efforts to preserve the Bluffs to the late 1960’s when the community of Carpinteria, led by the Carpinteria Valley Association, mounted successful opposition to a large oil refinery proposed for the Bluffs. Since then, several proposals for intensive residential and commercial uses have been denied through fierce opposition from residents of Carpinteria and the community at large.
We saw a narrow opportunity, and we jumped on it.” -Chet Work, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Executive Director
In 1998, concerned residents and the broader community rallied to purchase over 50 acres of the Bluffs. Over $4.5 million was raised in this historic preservation effort, resulting in the creation of the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, which is now owned and maintained by the City of Carpinteria.
“The City of Carpinteria has managed the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve since 2000, and has done so with pride,” said Mayor Gregg Carty. “The Carp Bluffs III property gives us a great opportunity to increase the size and scope of protected coastal open space under the City’s jurisdiction.”
Currently zoned for resort development, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County has fortuitously secured the contract to purchase and preserve the 21 acres. This conservation opportunity resulted from the Land Trust’s vigilant watch over negotiations between the site’s previous owners and potential developers.
“We saw a narrow opportunity, and we jumped on it,” said Chet Work, Executive Director of the Land Trust.
A total campaign goal of $7.9M allows for the purchase, initial restoration and ongoing stewardship of Carp Bluffs III. According to campaign representatives, $3M in lead gifts have already been pledged and an additional $2.4M in pledges was raised during the quiet phase of the campaign. There is the potential for up to $1M through public grants, and the Land Trust and Citizens for Carpinteria Bluffs are now looking to the community and these grants to raise the remaining $2.5M.
The land is not yet fully paid for by the Land Trust and the Citizens for Carpinteria Bluffs. This collaboration will raise the funds needed to finalize the purchase. In order to meet a short timeframe, the Land Trust acted quickly to structure a loan with the seller that would secure the property while allowing time for fundraising. The Land Trust and the Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs now need community support to help close the deal and further advance a vision set out in 1998 – to protect and preserve all of the undeveloped portions of the Bluffs.
“The Land Trust has a long history of preserving important properties on behalf of the community,” said Mr. Work. “The Carpinteria Bluffs III project is a perfect example of the creative solutions and quick action that the Land Trust can bring on behalf of the communities of Santa Barbara County.
The purchase of the property will result in over 2/3 (73 total acres) of the entire Carpinteria Bluffs open space being preserved for nature lovers, bikers, artists and families alike…forever.
“The Carpinteria Bluffs III property provides natural, scenic and recreational value to residents and thousands who pass it daily,” said Greg Parker, President of the Land Trust’s Board of Trustees. “The Land Trust looks forward to working with the City of Carpinteria, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, Carpinteria residents and others to conserve this irreplaceable coastal property in perpetuity for the enjoyment of today’s residents and future generations.”