While many individuals, organizations and agencies are conserving the North Coast area of San Luis Obispo County, consider for today the impact of land trusts and conservancies on our lives and daily routines in Cambria. (“Land trusts” and “conservancies” are pretty much the same thing.)
Looking out of the window in early morning, I see the crowns of Monterey pines at Greenspace’s Dorking Street pocket park a block away. It’s one a dozen similar pockets of natural vegetation that enhance views from nearby homes and streets and provide habitat for wildlife. Greenspace – The Cambria Land Trust began preserving them with the help of donors in 1993.
Our dogs signal it’s time for a walk. We opt for the forested part of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. It was The American Land Conservancy, North Coast Small Wilderness Area Preservation, Friends of the Ranchland and countless Cambrians and Cambria-lovers who saved it from development.
The Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve now lead the efforts to protect and maintain it.
Driving into town on Burton Drive, I pass the Fern Canyon Open Space Preserve (Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County), and then Greenspace’s Wilton and Pocahontas pocket parks which provide a natural gateway to town. Farther along I cross the Burton Drive bridge, under which Greenspace managed the removal of a barrier that obstructed fish migration for as much as 65 percent of the year. Looking up Burton past Main Street, I can see part of the 800-acre forest to the northeast which has been conserved through efforts of The Nature Conservancy.
I have an errand at the Greenspace Creekside Reserve on Center Street, and take time to check out the steelhead fingerlings in the creek. (I know that upstream there are two other Greenspace projects that have improved the creek as fish habitat. For one of them the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County was a partner.)
The Cambria Chinese temple in the Creekside Reserve, is one of two cultural conservation projects of Greenspace. The other, a Native American village site on Lodge Hill, will soon be expanded in cooperation with The Archeological Conservancy, headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M.
Driving west on Main Street, the extent and visual impact of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is dramatically evident on the ridge to the left. In the foreground, the meadow by Rabobank remains open due to long-ago efforts by Greenspace and others, and by a donation of land from Mid-State Bank.
Here and there on my drive I pass recently planted Monterey pine trees, the product of a partnership of Greenspace and scientists at the University of California to repopulate this forest with trees that are likely to be resistant to pitch canker disease.
My next errands take me within sight of another of our area’s marvels, the Hearst Ranch, over which easements ensure continued historical agricultural uses. That deal was arranged by The American Land Conservancy after initial work by The Nature Conservancy, and involves the California Rangeland Trust as easement holder.
On my way home, I visit the 21-acre Strawberry Canyon Preserve, a 15-year Greenspace project that conserves a tract of characteristic Monterey pine forest large enough to provide significant habitat. Soon more of the Lodge Hill forest will be protected.
Almost any route through Cambria would encounter similar natural amenities that are due to the efforts of land trusts and conservancies large and small, local and national.
Greenspace is proud to be part of this ongoing endeavor.
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 www.greenspacecambria.org.