Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust

Paying for conservation requires imagination and steadfast friends

Without endowment, Greenspace depends on tax-deductible contributions, grants

Special to The CambrianSeptember 2, 2013 

Artists show off their work at tents and booths July 27 at the Creekside Art Festival in the Greenspace Creekside Reserve.

MERLE BASSETT — Special to The Cambrian

Greenspace continues to acquire property to protect local forests, creeks, open space and cultural resources. Accomplishing this without a permanent financial endowment requires imagination and considerable effort.

First, an update: In partnership with the Archaeological Conservancy, Greenspace just saved another piece of the Native American village site on Lodge Hill. This means 60 percent of the undeveloped portion of the historical site has been protected.  The Conservancy calls it “one of the best preserved and oldest prehistoric villages on California’s Central Coast.”  It’s a registered California archaeological site.

This latest purchase was possible through the generosity of the Canadian owner of the land, as well as the Lillian Gleicher estate and the Archaeological Conservancy. The partnership with Greenspace to preserve the historic site began a dozen years ago.  Earlier acquisitions of property there benefited from bequests and donations by 45 families, individuals and corporations. For these and nearly all Greenspace property acquisitions, local real estate agents played roles.

Greenspace is close to completing acquisition of a tract of Monterey pine forest in the Highway 1 viewshed. (A viewshed is what motorists see from the road.) This will be the culmination of several years of discussions with the property owner who is donating the land. It will be named in honor of the late Harold Fitzwater, who, with his wife, envisioned protecting this 4.7-acre section of forest.

Long-term maintenance is an important consideration when conserving land.  Neighboring lot owners and Greenspace directors contributed funds for this.

In addition to the methods mentioned above, landowners have conveyed property to Greenspace by offering it at a “bargain price.” The difference between this and the appraised value can be taken as a tax deduction.

This was, in part, how purchase of the Greenspace Creekside Reserve was possible. But it took other tactics as well.  Greenspace had an earlier donation to cover the down payment, but depended very much on the willingness of 90 people who pledged to help cover the mortgage payments for a couple of years while other sources for funding the project were pursued. For a small land trust with no endowment, finding mechanisms to fund land acquisition can take imagination and steadfast friends. 


Seeking grants for conservation from public funds has also been important.

This can be time-consuming because applications can require enormous detail and include letters of commitment and support from individuals, organizations and agencies that must be individually pursued.

And competition for public funds can be tough.

Greenspace is proud of its record of having some of its proposals ranked among the top proposals in the state. (Recently a grant proposal co-authored by Greenspace was ranked second out of 90. No time to rejoice, though, because Phase 2 of the three-stage application process is due soon.)

Once submitted, a decision about a grant application can take up to a year.  And after that, the permission to proceed with the project can be delayed as much as three years.

For one Greenspace project, the time from conception to completion was 12 years.

Looked at another way, that project was on Greenspace’s radar for about half of the time the organization has existed.

What makes applying for funding worth the effort?  That money helps accomplish conservation projects that otherwise would not be possible.

Greenspace heartily thanks everyone who has contributed in so many ways to the achievements in its first quarter century.

Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust’s 25-year story in the community is told in the new book, “GREENSPACE ... So Far” by Wayne Attoe, the nonprofit group’s president. It’s available for $25 at the Greenspace office (927-1626) and for loan from the Cambria Library. For more about Greenspace, go to

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