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Money set aside for Pirate's Cove may now go to Pismo Preserve

The 900-acre Pismo Preserve offers breathtaking views.
The 900-acre Pismo Preserve offers breathtaking views. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Pirate’s Cove’s loss could be the Pismo Preserve’s gain.

On Aug. 6, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments will consider allocating as much as $175,000 that was originally earmarked for improvements for the county park at Pirate’s Cove to improvements at the Pismo Preserve instead.

The agency had allocated $350,000 to the Pirate’s Cove project. But on July 11, the California Coastal Commission rejected about half the improvements planned by the county for the park. Pirate’s Cove, also called Cave Landing, is between Avila Beach and Pismo Beach.

A new segment of the California Coastal Trail at Pirate’s Cove was approved by the Coastal Commission, but improvements to the parking lot and beach access were not. This could free up as much as $175,000, said Jessica Berry, a planner with the local agency.

“We anticipate having revenue,” she said. “We just don’t know how much.”

If approved, the transferred money would be spent on improving public access to the Pismo Preserve, a 900-acre parcel northeast of Pismo Beach that the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County is purchasing for an overall price of $12 million.

The main access point for the preserve would be off Mattie Road in Shell Beach. The money would be used to help create a trailhead parking lot and staging area.

Any additional funds needed to complete the access improvements would come from a discretionary fund called the Regional State Highway Account that is used for development of transportation facilities and was the original source for the Pirate’s Cove funding.

The conservancy needs to raise the $12 million by the end of August. The money will purchase the property and set aside money for improvements and an operating endowment.

Originally, the group has hoped to finish the fundraising by the beginning of August but the owner has pushed the deadline to the end of August to allow the conservancy to get funding from the California Wildlife Conservation Board. That board meets at the end of August, said Wende David, the conservancy’s director of development.

The planned improvements will need to be completed before the property can be opened to the public, which is scheduled for the summer of 2015.

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