The Pismo Preserve is inching closer and closer to completion, but the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County is asking for the public’s help clearing its final hurdle.
The group announced Monday that it broke ground on required improvements to the roadways and access to the 880-acre preserve near Pismo Beach that will eventually allow it to open full-time to the public.
The latest phase of construction will stretch along Mattie Road, including a new sidewalk and utilities, up to the entrance of the Pismo Preserve, where a new retaining wall and widened driveway will be built. It will also eventually include a parking lot and other visitor serving amenities, according to a news release.
“We are incredibly excited to be moving to this first phase of construction and are grateful to our government and business partners in Pismo Beach for helping us get to this point,” Land Conservancy executive director Kaila Dettman said in the release. “Thank you in advance to our neighbors who will have to navigate lane closures while we construct these critical safety improvements.”
There’s a catch, though. The group so far has secured only $1.2 million of the anticipated $4.2 million needed to complete the road improvements.
“Currently, we have enough funding to complete the Mattie Road improvements up to the entrance of the Pismo Preserve,” Dettman said. “Once that phase is complete, construction may halt temporarily if we haven’t secured the remaining $3 million to finish the project.”
The San Luis Obispo County Council of Governments approved $400,000 toward the improvements in August, and the city of Pismo Beach has additionally pledged between $500,000 and $700,000 toward the project. The California State Coastal Conservancy also promised $200,000 for the planned restrooms.
Dettman said the Land Conservancy expects to receive additional help from state and local agencies, but added that the group is “relying heavily on gifts from local businesses and individuals” to fill in the funding gaps.
The Pismo Preserve, located just outside of the Pismo Beach city limits, was acquired by the Land Conservancy in September 2014 for more than $12 million after a massive fundraising effort.
Of that, $8 million was donated by the state Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board, $3 million came from local and regional government agencies, and the remaining $1.3 million was donated by the community.
Though it was at one time expected to be ready in 2015, the Pismo Preserve was delayed several years due to a series of complications, including requirements to enhance pedestrian safety on Mattie Road with a sidewalk and a wider entrance.
A major redesign of the parking area also was required after preliminary archaeological work revealed a previously unrecorded cemetery of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe.
The preserve has been sporadically opened to visitors on special hiking discovery days, but has not yet been available to visitors seven days a week.
The Land Conservancy said the timeline of when that will occur is dependent on securing funding for the last phase of the roadway improvements.
The Mattie Road improvements will likely take three to four months to complete, according to the release.