Visitors will soon see Lyon’s legacy

A spark is kindled, a step taken. Leaders emerge to sustain a journey’s momentum, navigating roadblocks before achievement.

Such a spark ignited in Cayucos over the development of Estero Bluffs. Roger and Susan Lyon walked neighborhoods to assess viewpoints.

They discovered a common vision valuing the view corridor of the adjacent coastal lands. They recognized a community’s willingness to work to preserve the land’s naturalness.

Greg and Mary Bettencourt recalled the historic journey that began in the 1980s. Greg was a high school teacher, and Mary was mentoring their children toward adulthood.

The Estero Bluffs call to action rallied them to become community players on the Cayucos Citizens Advisory Council and board members of the Cayucos Land Conservancy.

“A group of L.A. investors purchased the ranch land for development,” Greg said. “Susan Lyon served on (the) Citizens Advisory (Council) and wanted to monitor their project.

“Over 15 years, it grew into a resort hotel and gated community without water to serve it. Roger and Susan knocked on every door in Cayucos and found 86 percent did not support the project.

“Roger had the legal training to get the property rezoned. The owners put it up for sale. Roger approached Public Land Trust to find funds to preserve it.

“The community convinced Land Trust we had the sweat equity and community vision to maintain the property. Within six months, Roger and Bruce (Gibson) wrote the language to convince State Parks and Land Trust to collaborate with the Land Conservancy to preserve the property.”

Flash forward to November 2010. The Estero Bluffs State Park will soon officially accept visitors.

For about four years, the Bettencourts (representing the Cayucos Land Conservancy), Rouvaishana (representing State Parks) and Cayucos graphic artist Rocky deLlamas have brainstormed, designed and produced four approved education panels for observation.

“When the conservation easement was established, Estero Bluffs was the most important viewshed — for us and visitors,” Greg said. “Rouvaishana had to shepherd the project through the system. State Parks must balance between protecting the land and offering public access.”

Funding from Land Trust and the Packard Foundation came with the expectation that the millions of anticipated visitors would be educated, he added.

One panel describes the community partnership. Another pictures the habitat and its inhabitants.

The snowy plover’s story is told while advising how to protect its surroundings. Finally, a reminder stresses that even respectful visitors will impact the environment.

It cautions “ you can observe ensuring they will be here the next time you visit.”

“The panels are due Nov. 12. Then the project will be completed,” Greg said.

Roger died in October when the plane he was piloting for the Flying Samaritans medical missions group crashed in Mexico.

He will miss the celebration, but his advocacy shaped a community’s personality. His spirit preserves the beauty that’s Cayucos.

Reach Judy at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com