Building a wilderness legacy on California's Central Coast

Building a wilderness legacy on California's Central Coast

Apr. 25, 2016

The Wilderness Land Trust is proud to announce our newest protected land! Our acquisition this week of the 320-acre Trout Creek property secures public access to trails into the Garcia Wilderness (on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo). Hikers and hunters will now forever be able to hike in to the Buckeye and Balm of Gilead campgrounds in the Garcia Wilderness. The Trust partnered with Real Estate Foundation of The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County and the McNeil family, owners of the property for over a century, to protect this special place.


“We are honored to work with The Trust to create trail access for the community. This is the kind of place that makes the Central Coast a truly special place to live and play,” said Heidi McPherson, Chief Executive Officer, The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County.


“The chance to work with The Trust to protect this land our family has stewarded for over a century for future generations makes us proud. The Wilderness quality of the area is special to us and now it will be forever protected for everyone to enjoy,” said David McNeil.


As Peregrine falcons and California condors struggled to survive extinction, this area provided critical recovery habitat that helped them thrive. Mountain lions and deer also call the Garcia Wilderness home. With your help, our next step is to transfer ownership of the property to the Forest Service to be managed consistently with adjacent designated Wilderness. The Trout Creek property sits adjacent to the Garcia Wilderness with views of Garcia Mountain. It is governed only by county land use regulation. If the property remains in private ownership and is developed, the result will include fragmentation of the surrounding protected habitat and water quality impacts. The trail access could be blocked, so long as the property is privately owned. Only its acquisition by The Trust and transfer to the Forest Service will secure trail access and insure the property is managed consistently with the adjacent Wilderness.


Designated as Wilderness in 1992 and including almost 14,000 acres, the Garcia Wilderness and the surrounding area have incubated recovering California condors & peregrine falcons, and the area is planned to host the California Condor to Coast trail route. This is the second property the Trust has acquired in the area—in 2012, the Trust acquired the 157-acre California Hawking Club property, an inholding in the nearby Santa Lucia Wilderness, also securing trail access and protecting important wildlife habitat.


Aimee Rutledge

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