Cambrian: Opinion

$30K grant helps pay for Fiscalini Ranch Preserve tree assessment

A trail through the forest on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in 2006.
A trail through the forest on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in 2006.

“Cambria Pines by the Sea” so perfectly describes why so many visitors love Cambria and why so many of us choose to live here. The Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) in Cambria are one of the five isolated native stands of these beautiful trees in the world, making them awe-inspiring to think about, as well as to see.

You can see that native stands are very, very rare, although they are raised all over the world commercially. Each local population of these trees, from Año Nuevo north of Santa Cruz, to Cedros and Guadalupe Islands to the far south in Mexico, has evolved independently; each one having its own pool of specialized genes.

Most of us think diversity is desirable, but for the health of our forest that diversity needs to be home-grown and adapted to our location. Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (FFRP), Greenspace — The Cambrian Land Trust, the Cambria Forest Committee and the Cambria Land Trust have tried to perpetuate this for years by planting trees from native stock.

The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is home to a small but important part of the Monterey pine forest here. One main goal of FFRP is care of the forest on the Ranch.

We have the Cambria Forest Management Plan, published by the Cambria Forest Committee in 2002. This plan gives us a basis for managing and protecting our precious forest, but it does not give us an assessment of what we have, so first we need to evaluate what is actually on the ground.

An assessment is a necessary first step toward implementing any plans for the forest. It’s impossible to know what is best for the forest without knowing exactly what is there.

FFRP recently applied for and received a generous donation of $30,000 from the Gertrude and Leonard Fairbanks Foundation to fund the assessment of our native forest on the preserve. The daughter and grandchildren of Gertrude and Leonard Fairbanks formed the foundation to honor them, to make donations to nonprofit causes each year and to promote the spirit of philanthropy.

FFRP is honored to be one of the recipients for 2013. We are so grateful for the opportunity to use these funds for the benefit of the Ranch and the people who love and use it. Soon we will be launching a matching funds campaign to carry on this project and you can be a part of it!

FFRP will use the donation to benefit the forest. A forest ecologist will be hired to make an evaluation of the forest and to make suggestions for projects that will ensure its survival. Part of the assessment will be a series of recommended treatments and priority ratings for segments of the forest on the Ranch on a section-by-section basis.

FFRP will conduct a public meeting with stakeholders and the community to help define goals and priorities for the assessment. FFRP will use Cambria’s Forest Management Plan to help direct the evaluation and implementation of any project that might come from this study.

The Ranch Management plan and the Master Environmental Impact Report will also be used. The public can view the Forest Management Plan at the Cambria Forest Committee’s website at and the Ranch Management Plan, Conservation Easement and the Master EIR on the CCSD website at

We hope that we can be a leader in using and taking the management plan forward on the Ranch segment of our beautiful forest, based on the forest inventory and treatment suggestions. It may only be a test project, but we intend to put this study into action. Any project will go through a public process as required by any applicable laws, policies, and regulations.

Please take part in the process, look for the launch of our campaign to raise at least $10,000 in matching funds for Fairbanks Foundation donation and join our friends at our next fundraising event, “Songs for the Season,” and afternoon of seasonal music, fine food and wine, raffle, silent auction and more. It is from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Fog’s End Barn, 2735 Main St.

Jo Ellen Butler’s column is special to The Cambrian. Ranch Update appears quarterly. Contact the executive director of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve at, 927-2856, or P.O. Box 1664, Cambria 93428.