540 acres on Hollister Peak preserved. But public access remains limited

A scenic 540-acre swath of land on the south side of Hollister Peak will be permanently protected from future development.

The voluntary conservation easement, which includes the entire southern slope of Hollister Peak from Turri Road to the peak’s craggy summit, was announced Wednesday by The Land Conservancy, which fostered the agreement with landowners Jeff and Joan Buckingham.

The preserved ranch is named Cerro Alto, after Hollister Peak’s original name. The agreement still won’t open Hollister Peak, which is all privately owned, to public access. But The Land Conservancy has permission to host docent-led hikes on the ranch each year with the support of the landowners. Existing livestock operation also will be allowed to continue there.

The protected area is highly visible from the Los Osos Valley and Morro Bay, with a recognizable windmill on Turri Road that stands at the base of the hillside.

The 900 acre Pismo Preserve in Pismo Beach, California, has trails for hiking, mountain biking and horse riding. There are 10 miles of trails that go from oak tree groves to stunning ocean views.

“The ranch is a truly special piece of our county,” Kaila Dettman, Executive Director of The Conservancy, said in a statement. “Through this partnership with the owner, we have been able to protect local food, iconic views and homes for wildlife. The ranch is one of many beautiful places from San Luis Obispo to Los Osos that are part our effort to preserve a path through the Los Osos Valley.”

Jeff Buckingham said it has been a longtime goal of his to preserve the scenic land.

Newly preserved land in the Los Osos Valley included 540 acres around Hollister Peak. The Land Conservancy

“When I first arrived at Cal Poly in the summer of 1979, I went exploring and found Turri Road where I paused for a moment in front of the ranch my family now calls home,” Buckingham said in a statement. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to live here and be able to keep this place looking just this way forever?’ With the help of The Land Conservancy, we have done just that.”

Residential development is limited to two homes; subdivision of the property is prohibited under the easement terms.

The Cerro Alto conservation easement was funded by the Camp San Luis Obispo Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Program.

The Land Conservancy has now conserved more than 1,600 acres in and around Los Osos Valley, according to its press release, including an easement completed in September 2018 at Kandarian Farms, a 130-acre property located along Los Osos Valley Road.

Take in the sights of a beautiful, warm day in Morro Bay near the harbor and the Rock, with perfect waves and lots of fun in the sun.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.