FAQ

Questions about the Conservancy

How can I be assured the 18,000 acres will be preserved in perpetuity?
Who runs the Conservancy?
How is the Conservancy funded?
How much public access is there to the private trails?

Questions about land management

What are the Conservancy’s restoration goals?
What is the status of the Cattle Grazing Program? How many cows does the Conservancy have?
How does the Conservancy manage invasive weeds on The Preserve?
What can the people do to enhance the Conservancy’s weed abatement activities?

Questions about wildlife

How do I clean out my owl box?
How do you educate people on the presence of wildlife in their area, like mountain lions?

Q&A

Questions about the Conservancy

How can I be assured the 18,000 acres will be preserved in perpetuity?

The Santa Lucia Preserve design incorporates cutting edge land protection tools including conservation easements and landowner agreements that ensure the permanent protection of over 90% of the total land area of The Preserve. A key element of this design is the Santa Lucia Conservancy, an independent land trust which partners with the landowners and staff of The Preserve to ensure the management, restoration, and protection of our natural habitat, wildlife, and scenic beauty. The Conservancy’s activities are funded by an endowment created through the original development design.

Who runs the Conservancy?

The Santa Lucia Conservancy was created in cooperation with nationally recognized land trusts, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and The Sonoran Institute. The Sonoran Institute continues to oversee and accept the Conservancy as an affiliate. The non-member Board of Governors have the responsibility to protect the public interest by actively monitoring the ranching, recreational, research, educational and resource management activities, and enforcing the covenants, conditions, and restrictions contained in the grant deeds

How is the Conservancy funded?

The Rancho San Carlos Partnership committed a $25 million endowment to the Conservancy. The Partnership began contributing the endowment in five equal annual installments on December 31, 2004. Until completely funded, the Partnership’s obligation is secured independently appraised real estate. Additionally, the Partnership subsidizes the Conservancy’s operations until the Endowment is fully funded.

How much public access is there to the private trails?

The Conservancy does sponsor escorted hiking tours on The Preserve’s private trails. It is intended that these guided hikes will be small groups and absolute consideration will be taken not to affect the quiet enjoyment of private homeowners.

Questions about land management

What are the Conservancy’s restoration goals?

Rather than managing for a specific time in history (i.e. aiming to recreate what existed a hundred or five hundred years ago) our approach is forward-thinking. Our goal is to sustain the health, beauty and biodiversity of the 18,000 acres of protected lands within The Preserve over the next 100+ years, in close partnership with the 300 families who share this land. The Preserve is exceptionally diverse, supporting 5 biomes, over 50 distinct plant communities and over 1,000 species of plants and animals. Managing the land to maintain this diversity and resilience in the face of changing microclimates and new weeds and pathogens is our objective.

What is the status of the Cattle Grazing Program? How many cows does the Conservancy have?

The Conservation Grazing Program is an essential part of our land stewardship program, and we are excited about the early results of the grassland research that is part of the process. Significant reduction in thistle and thatch along the cattle’s grazing path are early indications of positive ecosystem impacts that are resulting from our grazing program. Under Leslie Dorrance’s leadership, the herd is in excellent health, and the grazing team is working well together as they slowly expand the reach and impact of the grazing efforts. The Conservancy’s herd currently includes 42 cattle, and the Dorrance Ranch seasonally lends us additional cows (currently, ~40) to help us meet our habitat goals.

How does the Conservancy manage invasive weeds on The Preserve?

Invasive weeds are rapidly expanding throughout California’s Central Coast, and The Preserve is not immune to this challenge. We are, however, fortunate to have a powerful partnership for weed management, which includes a dedicated Conservancy staff working closely with the Community Services District, Resident Services, landowners and contractors. The Conservancy has a Weed Management Plan with 5 main components:
1. A ‘prohibited plant list’ to avoid new weed infestations from landscaping;
2. A vigorous ‘search and destroy’ effort against ~10 high-impact noxious weed species which have been virtually eradicated from The Preserve;
3. A close partnership with the Community Services District focusing on 3 priority weed types (French broom, poison hemlock, and non-native thistles) with an aggressive treatment along roads and scenic areas and in proximity to sensitive habitat areas;
4. The use of carefully-managed cattle grazing to combat weeds and improve grassland health on approximately 2,000 acres of Wildlands and Openlands;
5. Supporting landowners in identifying and addressing weed infestations in Homelands and Openlands through the creation of a Preserve Landowners’ Guide to Weed Management emphasizing an “early detection, rapid response’ approach to avoiding new infestations.

What can the people do to enhance the Conservancy’s weed abatement activities?

A large number of Preserve landowners are working closely with the Conservancy to manage weeds in Openalnds and Homelands, and their work continues to be instrumental to getting weeds back under control. The Conservancy is in the process of bringing a full-time weed-management expert onto the team to help guide this effort and work in partnership with landowners. We are always available to work with owners on sustainable plans for Openlands weed management.

Questions about wildlife

How do I clean out my owl box?

For owl boxes that have been used by birds in the previous year, the bedding will appear almost black with owl pellets and other sundry detritus. The material needs to be pulled out and replaced with 2” of fresh pine or alder shavings (no cedar or redwood shavings, the birds won’t use it). Pine shavings can be purchased at Hacienday Hay and Feed on Carmel Valley Road. Some of the owl boxes have hinged tops or bottoms, others may require unscrewing a panel to access the inside.
The chore of cleaning owl boxes should be done by the end of the year so it doesn’t interfere with birds setting up breeding for the spring.

How do you educate people on the presence of wildlife in their area, like mountain lions?

Finding this balance-providing information without creating anxiety-is one of the challenges of our work. Preserve landowners share The Preserve with over 1,000 species of animals and plants, including mountain lions. These iconic animals can be found in rural and residential areas throughout California but are rarely seen as they are quite shy, preferring to avoid people. We reach out to Preserve members and staff with wildlife-related education materials and advisories, Conservancy-led hikes, lectures, trail signs, email advisories, and website information. We are always available to answer questions about mountain lions and other wildlife on The Preserve.

Please send questions you want answered to outreach@slconservancy.org