Tremendous planning guided the development of The Preserve. By design, The Preserve was built to be a community set in the coveted natural landscape of Central California, in which no element of the built environment diverts attention from the natural scenic value of the land. The Santa Lucia Preserve occupies a unique geography that is a rare specimen in California today. Seemingly untouched oak and savanna woodlands, undulating grasslands, redwood-lined canyons and trickling tributaries are a few of the pristine settings within The Preserve. Conservation of this natural heritage is a shared responsibility between The Preserve community and the Santa Lucia Conservancy.
Of The Preserve’s 20,000 acres, only a small portion is impacted by human development. These portions include The Preserve’s clubs and amenities, and landowner’s private building envelopes, called Homelands.
The residential lots within the Santa Lucia Preserve consist of two zones, the Homelands and Openlands. The Homelands are smaller, more adaptable envelopes within a parcel that are zoned for residential development. Uses within the remaining area, called Openlands, is heavily restricted by a conservation easement held by the Santa Lucia Conservancy. The Conservancy holds permanent conservation easements on approximately 7,650 acres of Openlands.
The Santa Lucia Conservancy works proactively and cooperatively with landowners to ensure stewardship of Openlands and also regularly monitors its conservation easements to ensure easement restrictions are being honored. While physical management of these easement properties is ultimately the responsibility of the individual landowners, the Conservancy provides management plans and advice to assist with easement restrictions, or simply to enhance the land’s ecological values.
In addition to the conservation easements, the Santa Lucia Conservancy actively manages 10,350 acres of land, preserving ecological values under an adaptive management scenario. These lands, coined Wildlands, are subject to cattle grazing, prescribed fire, mechanical treatments and targeted herbicide applications to achieve conservation objectives.
Photos: Paul Dyer; Christy Wyckoff