Our Lands

Openlands + Wildlands 

The Santa Lucia Preserve protects a rare remnant of California’s natural landscape.  Composed of oak woodlands and savanna, undulating grasslands, redwood-lined canyons and trickling tributaries, The Preserve seems untouched by time or development. Conservation of this natural heritage is a shared responsibility between Landowners and the Santa Lucia Conservancy.

By design, The Preserve was built to be a conservation community set in this coveted natural landscape of Central California, in which no element of the built environment diverts attention from the natural scenic value of the land. Large portions are therefore left undeveloped in perpetuity, and make up 90% of The Preserve. These include the Wildlands, 10,360 acres entrusted to the Santa Lucia Conservancy to manage for their wild natural beauty and biodiversity.  The Conservancy actively manages these lands through invasive species removal, conservation grazing, and science-guided monitoring and research.

The remaining Preserve Lands, held under private ownership and protected by covenants that ensure their permanent protection as natural open space under conservation easements with the Conservancy, are called the Openlands. 

Each residential lot within the Santa Lucia Preserve consists of two zones, the Homelands and Openlands

The Homelands are smaller, adaptable envelopes zoned for residential development. 

Openlands, however, are held in permanent conservation easements by the Santa Lucia Conservancy.  Homeowners are welcome to explore and enjoy their natural Openlands, however, development is heavily restricted.  This allows The Preserve’s ecological integrity to remain intact in perpetuity. By design, approximately 8,000 acres of The Preserve are protected for their scenic and environmental qualities as Openlands under conservation easement with the Conservancy. Preserving these areas, as is, helps maintain the connectivity of the wild qualities we enjoy on The Preserve allowing for people and nature to co-exist in harmony, reduce habitat fragmentation, and perpetuate the natural beauty of the landscape. In doing so, we enhance opportunities for wildlife viewing and retain unencumbered views of this iconic landscape. Sensitive resources including special status species, rare wildlife habitat, riparian and wetland habitat, sensitive habitat, and cultural areas are protected in the Openlands.

Openlands Management Plans

Openlands are managed in partnership between Landowners and the Conservancy. Openlands Management Plans are created with a variety of goals in mind to preserve native habitat, restore ecosystems, remove invasive species, and maintain privacy. Healthy Openlands are part of every homeowners’ legacy and there are many opportunities to participate in research, restoration, and land management in the Openlands. 

These partnerships sustain protected values and may include strategies for habitat restoration, invasive weed control, non-toxic pest management,  and research in collaboration with the Conservancy. The Conservancy provides complimentary stewardship advice to our members through the development of Openlands Management Plans. These plans lay out multi-year strategies to guide Landowners to achieve shared conservation goals.   Read more about Openlands Management Plans here.

Contact us for an ecological consult of eco-actions you can take to manage invasive species, curb erosion, and live with wildlife. 

 

Settled Lands

The portions of the Santa Lucia Preserve that are reserved for development are called the Settled Lands. These are the Homelands – all residential building envelopes – and the Rancholands – all non-residential development parcels including the Ranch and Golf Club amenities, trails, and roads of The Preserve.

Hundreds of experts surveyed every acre to identify archaeological and ecological resources for protection; the least sensitive sites were allocated for development. No detail was spared. Driving along the narrow Preserve roads drivers enjoy expansive landscape views as they exit sharp curves—every element down to the windshield view and the contoured roadways that compel leisurely transport were deliberate.

By design, The Preserve was built to be a community set in the coveted, aesthetic, natural landscape of Central California, in which the built environment is subordinate to the natural scenic value of the land. The Preserve approach to design reflects the belief that the genuine value of these 20,000 acres lies in the beauty, vastness, and richness of its landscape.

Through easements, thoughtful design and regular monitoring, The Preserve weaves the community into the landscape and blurs the lines between wild and settled lands. This model of development is a grand experiment and the Conservancy is running studies that test how well the model is working. To read more about monitoring, click here and here.
The commitment to sustaining the health and beauty of the land is reflected in a hundred ways: the narrow country roads that follow the contours of earth – in the decision to limit fencing, night lighting and land clearing to ensure the safe passage of wildlife – in the investments in underground utilities, water conservation and buffers around streams and sensitive habitat. Equally important, perhaps, is the creation of the Santa Lucia Conservancy, a science-based conservation organization dedicated to the care and protection of the natural resources of The Preserve.

Learn More

Curious about shared Openlands management? Read more here.