2021: A Year of Growth and Change

Albino redwood growing from the base of its emerald parent tree. Photo by Alix Soliman. 

December 21, 2021

By Jamison Watts, Executive Director

After the first storms of the season, The Preserve is awash in new green grass, windswept leaves, the sweet smell of fecund earth, and the sound of babbling brooks and streams. As we wrap up a year of tremendous growth and change at the Conservancy, I can’t help but take a deep and satisfying breath of the fresh December air, proud of all we’ve accomplished together as a community.

Since joining the Conservancy last November as the new executive director, I have been repeatedly struck by the incredible success of The Preserve design. It is not only a major land conservation accomplishment with far-reaching implications for regional habitat connectivity and fire preparedness, but a feat of conservation-compatible development with a thriving community at its center. Our mission is twofold: To protect, enhance, and steward the unique natural and aesthetic resources of the Santa Lucia Preserve while also promoting sustainable human development. This year, the Conservancy made great strides on both fronts.

We conducted a successful prescribed burn in November and secured grant funding to support wildfire preparedness over the next two years. As part of our Fuel Management Plan Initiative and working closely with The Preserve Community Services District (CSD), 34 individual landowners agreed to have new or updated lot-specific fuel management plans (FMPs) prepared for their properties. We also became a certified Firewise Community and in our third year of the Grasslands Initiative, treated more acres than ever before.

This month, we distributed the Conservation Living Guide to Preserve landowners. Complete with a fold-out habitat map, tips for caring for Preserve Homelands and Openlands, guidance on fire safety, and information about wildlife, this handbook was created to foster a comprehensive understanding of what it means to live in a conservation community.

After completing an internal assessment to determine whether the right goals and strategies were in place to mitigate the primary threats to the Preserve’s natural capital and community, we put climate change adaptation at the fore of our work, restructured our departments, and increased our capacity to address our primary objectives. If that wasn’t enough, to accommodate our team of 12 full-time staff, we also moved offices to the Rancho Canada property we acquired in 2018.

Our priorities for the coming year include building climate and fire resilience in and around The Preserve, inspiring community by connecting people to nature and each other, continuing to restore our native grasslands, and collaborating with our partners to improve wildlife and fisheries linkages across our region.

In partnership with all of you – our incredible conservation community – I’m looking forward to the New Year with an extremely talented Board and staff working together with The Preserve community to advance our collective vision of a place where both people and nature thrive!

Click the button below to learn more about our accomplishments over the past year in our December Newsletter.