A spectacular stretch of Northern California coastline that boasts six watersheds and more than seven miles of coastal resources, will be permanently protected from development under a landmark deal approved this week by the state Coastal Commission.
The 6,800 acres of undeveloped shoreline, wooded areas and farmland in northern Santa Cruz County, known as Coast Dairies, will be transferred to the state and federal government, which will operate it as open space and preserve portions for agriculture.
Much of the land will be open to the public.
The property, owned for a century by the Coast Dairies & Land Company, was the third-largest privately held piece of the California coast from San Francisco to the Mexican border. It surrounds the small town of Davenport and includes beaches, hundreds of acres of agricultural lands, redwood forests, and endangered species habitat.
A Huge Victory For California
When the Trust for Public Land bought Coast Dairies in 1998, the property was on the verge of becoming a 139-home subdivision. Instead, it has become one of the largest coastal properties in California to both receive permanent protection and provide public access.
The 407 acres of rocky coastline and coastal bluffs was conveyed in August 2006 to State Parks. And now the forested inland acres will also receive state and federal protection.
As reported in The Los Angeles Times:
“This is important, an incredible part of the Central California coast that’s going to be retained in the form it was years and years ago,” said Dan Carl, the commission’s Central Coast District director. “It’s something you don’t see a lot in California as development moves and marches forward.”
The deal to safeguard the land from builders, in the works for more than a decade, was heralded as going to the heart of the state’s stringent coastal protection law.
It comes 40 years after the passage of Proposition 20, the 1972 voter-approved initiative that created the California Coastal Commission and gave it control over development along the state’s 1,100-mile coastline. That authority was cemented by the 1976 state Coastal Act.
Conservation Alive And Well In Davenport, CA
The arrangement transfers upland portions of the property surrounding the town of Davenport to the federal Bureau of Land Management and includes several hundred acres of shoreline seaward of California 1 that already have been deeded to the state Department of Parks and Recreation, which operates adjacent Wilder Ranch State Park. About 700 acres will remain under ownership of the Trust For Public Land for use as farmland, including organic strawberry fields.
In a related move, Cemex USA recently finalized the $30 million sale of its approximately 8,500-acre Redwood Forest property near the Cemex Davenport plant (closed in January 2010) to a consortium on local land trusts. The land trusts comprise the Living Landscape Initiative, a major conservation project in the Silicon Valley area.
Great news for conservationists in the Santa Cruz area!
Photo Credit: Brad Pedersen