Conservation Champion: Inspiration from Our Community

Migration to Nature

Moving from San Francisco’s Russian Hill to The Preserve is quite an extreme transition. From frantic streets, hordes of tourist and unlimited leisure options to the complete tranquility of Long Ridge Trail. To the south, the mountains of Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness, to the north, Peñon Peak and the Pacific Ocean. While this change of pace and scenery could seem dramatic and counterintuitive to many, it is more of a commonality among the Preserve community and possibly the strongest link that that binds the community together. People that love and seek out nature.

The Andrasicks

Some weeks ago, during a very warm June day on The Preserve, the Conservancy’s Natural Lands Manager, Jenna, and I parked our truck next to the Andrasicks’ Pura Vida sign. That short phrase packs such a big meaning.

“A happy, balance, clean, fresh, tropical life,” as Ginger explained. “Pure Life!”

We were there to work on the Andrasicks’ Openlands Management Plan and provide guidance on their ecological management property. Ginger was wearing a lightweight hat, gloves and sturdy clothing while holding a paper bag full of thistles, the catch of the day! Jim was working their push mower, removing weeds and reducing fuel loads around their home. It was hard work on a hot day. The couple have been actively managing their property and we could tell. From my first visit to their place last year to today it is a completely different game. The reduction of their weed population (mainly Italian thistle) is obvious and their hunger for ecological improvement is palpable.

Ginger and Jim’s love of nature goes back to their early childhood. While growing up in New Mexico, Ginger joined the Girl Scouts, while Jim joined the Boy Scouts on the other side of the county in New Jersey. Collecting badges and spending time in nature nurtured their appreciation for the natural world that ultimately lead this Girl and Boy Scout to seek out the tranquility and remoteness of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

They are probably one of the full-time residents with the longest commutes from the Gatehouse, but this is not by accident. The top of Long Ridge Trail sits atop the marine layer, offering more sunny warm days than lower elevation areas in The Preserve, and its remote location provides endless dark sky to the south. Ginger, an avid gardener, and Jim, an amateur astronomer, found in their home the place to let their passion take place; prime weather for growing vegetables and night’s without light pollution offering glorious darkness to explore the remoteness of the universe without leaving home.

Besides the work on their own land, this dynamic duo’s conservation efforts have impacts within the community and beyond the Preserve’s boundaries. Ginger was fundamental in championing the rodenticide free Preserve initiative, safeguarding the vitality of many predators – like owls, hawks and bobcats – that find mice and rats tasty. Jim serves as the Chair for the Big Sur Land Trust, where he focuses his efforts on free access to nature for all, understanding that a connection to nature leads to caring for it, which helps us all become better humans.

While location, aesthetic and natural attributes make their choice to live in The Preserve a no brainer, for the Andrasicks it is all about the community, both inside and outside our gates. The Preserve friendships they have formed and nurtured through the years are invaluable and help contribute to the deep values that this community shares. Beyond our gates, the warmth of neighbors near and far completes the equation, making this place a full delight.

As Ginger and Jim shared enthusiastically and often, “Life, it’s all about experiences!” A life surrounded by nature and filled with experiences and community feels a lot like the secret equation to a Pura Vida.

By Rodrigo Sierra Corona