Ranch Update: 10 years after: Making ‘The Ranch’ ours

February 18, 2010 

Walking the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve between rainstorms, I had to reflect on how much different my life would be if this beautiful open space had not been saved from development.

For many visitors and newer residents the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve has just always been here; a natural area for a quiet walk, a place to observe wildlife, run, bike and take friends for a picnic. It has become a popular spot for dog owners because dogs are welcome on the Ranch. We are the beneficiaries of a real treasure!

It is really quite amazing when you think of it; the area here was in somewhat public ownership during the time the Chumash and Salinans called it their own. Then along came private ownership! The King of Spain decided the land belonged to him and it was his to give away. It became a Spanish land grant that was given to the Estrada Family, and was known as Rancho Santa Rosa.

Many of the family ranches we know, and some that have come and gone, were purchased later, by pioneering families, from this original land grant. One of those, the Fiscalini Town Ranch, became the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve after going through more than one development plan, many hearings at the Cambria Community Services District, County Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors and Coastal Commission. And now the property is back in public ownership—held in trust for the people of California. The land has come full circle!

I have been having these thoughts a lot lately because this year marks the 10th anniversary of the struggle to buy the Ranch and the successful outcome of that battle, ending with the purchase of the East West Ranch (now the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve) as public open space in November 2000. This important anniversary brings back many memories of the long road that led to having the Ranch accessible from dawn to dusk every day of the year!

There are many stories from the time it was a working ranch leading up to the day the Ranch became ours. In the coming months, in this column, we will be sharing some of those stories and the long-ago history of the land from the time of the Chumash to the present. We will also be writing about plans for celebrating this wonderful event along with current events relating to the Ranch and some plans for the future. If you have questions you would like to have answered via this column or suggestions for our celebration in November, please call me at the office, 927-2856 or e-mail me at ffrpcambria@sbcglobal. net.

It is so amazing to believe it has been 10 years!

Upcoming events

Ranch docent walk -“An Introduction to Lichens,” presented by Lisa Andreano, an expert on lichens. Learn the fascinating symbiotic make up of lichens and fungus. They are widespread on the Ranch and have many uses. Power-point presentation followed by a short walk on the Preserve. 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 20. Reserve place by calling 927- 2202.

Wildflower identification classes. In preparation for wildflower season and our annual wildflower show, Doc Miller will teach a class in plant identification. The class will learn plant parts that are helpful in keying plants into their respective families. He will also share what the easily recognized characteristics are in some of the more common plant families. The class is limited to 25 people; the cost for all four classes is $10. 10 a.m. to noon every Saturday in March. Last year’s class had a waiting list, so call 927-2856, or e-mail ffrpcambria@sbcglobal.net, right away to reserve a space.

Jo Ellen Butler is executive director of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (formerly North Coast Small Wilderness Area Preservation). RanchUpdate appears periodically in The Cambrian. Contact FFRP at ffrpcam bria.org, 927-2856, or P.O. Box 1664, Cambria 93428.

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