Caltrans Culvert at Gaviota’s Cañada del Barro Approved

Roadkill data from near Canada del Barro, which is the yellow shape in the lower left.


A few phone calls by Supervisor Gregg Hart to Caltrans have rescued the highway agency’s project to replace a large culvert under the 101 just east of the Gaviota Pass. The work had been successfully appealed by two Gaviota groups earlier, on September 1. They convinced the supervisors that the culvert should be larger, big enough for deer and bear to pass through because so many wild animals were being killed on that stretch of the highway. They also asked that a trail proposed in the Gaviota community plan be provided. Only Supervisor Hart disagreed with the appellants that day, but on Tuesday morning, the rest of the four supervisors changed their minds after Caltrans agreed to fund a wildlife corridor study.

Read the entire article here at the SB Independent

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Vandenberg AFB Proposes Five New Golf Courses

Commercial developer Owen Larkin (right) and retired Air Force General Gene Renuart pose for a photo near the entrance of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Wed Sep 23, 2020 | 7:45am

Doug Kern, Executive Director of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, sounded the alarm bell Monday that Vandenberg Air Force Base is in the final stages of negotiations with a private development company to lease and build five new golf courses in environmentally sensitive habitat of Santa Barbara County that is home to four endangered species and a monarch butterfly migration site. 

Read the entire story here at the SB Independent

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Welcome to our first Executive Director

Doug Kern Named First Executive Director of Gaviota Coast Conservancy

Doug Kern
Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC) has hired environmentalist Doug Kern (seen here in a recent photo) to serve as the organization’s first executive director. He will begin his post on May 1.

The GCC Board of Directors completed an extensive search to find the right leader to help grow the organization’s capacity and advance its mission of protecting and preserving the unique and precious Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County.

As director of conservation for the Mendocino Land Trust, Doug Kern successfully completed more than a dozen endangered coho salmon recovery projects.

He helped conserve old-growth redwoods and agricultural lands through conservation easements and managed Land Trust properties to improve public access.

Kern's work on climate change includes establishing the first public electric vehicle-charging station network in Mendocino County.

Prior to his five years at the Mendocino Land Trust, Kern served as executive director of the Urban Watershed Project in the Presidio of San Francisco for 16 years.

He also led the Presidio Restoration Advisory Board, where he organized community input and restored natural stream ecosystems from contaminated lands.

Kern received his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in geophysics and later returned to school to earn an MBA from Cornell University. He is a trained mediator with experience resolving complex, multi-party land use issues.

“Doug brings extensive skills, experience and knowledge to our organization that will allow Gaviota Coast Conservancy to strategically pursue the preservation opportunities that are developing on the coast." said Steve Forsell, Gaviota Coast Conservancy president.

"He is collaborative and energetic. We are thrilled to have engaged his service,” Forsell said.

“I look forward to working with all of the GCC’s many partners and the community to protect our coastal heritage for the benefit of the plants, the critters, the local residents and future generations,” Kern said.

Founded in 1996, Gaviota Coast Conservancy is devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing the rural character and ecological integrity of the Gaviota Coast for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Here's this media release as published in the Santa Barbara Independent and Noozhawk. Thanks to these outlets for sharing our great news. 

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GCC in the Media on Hollister Intervention

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Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance Intervention Gets Attention


Today the Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance, of which Gaviota Coast Conservancy is a founding member, filed legal papers to intervene in the Hollister Ranch access case. Although the 1982 YMCA “Offer to Dedicate” concerns only a ¾ mile section of Hollister Ranch’s 8.5 miles of beach, it represents the first opportunity to bring the issue of Hollister Ranch access into the public discussion.

And what a discussion it has engendered! Started by Steve Lopez’ columns from the Los Angeles Times, like these:


Soon you can visit this pristine California beach — if you're a nearby landowner, on a guided tour or willing to paddle 2 miles

California's newest public beach is glorious, but you have to paddle to get there — and the trip is treacherous

Hollister Ranch access agreement is a wipeout and a sellout, hundreds of beach lovers scream

And now today's front page of the California section of the LA Times: 

Coastal advocates challenge deal that bars public from reaching Hollister Ranch by land


Judy Alexander of Santa Barbara, who said the Hollister Ranch settlement is concerning, calls on the Coastal Commission to fight for public beach access for all. (photo by David Royal / For the LA Times)

Here's local editor Jerry Roberts' take on it, in Newsmakers

In Courthouse News and Noozhawk

In addition to that and upcoming NPR coverage, we had a San Jose CBS reporter rent a kayak and try to paddle it himself, which caused a splash! 




On July 13, the Coastal Commission held a hearing about the settlement and received nearly 1500 emails, nearly all opposing the settlement.

It turns out that the Coastal Commission and the California Coastal Conservancy never made any announcement about the proposed settlement, and as far as the minutes show, never announced any action on the proposed settlement. Nevertheless, their lawyers assert they have approved the settlement and cannot go back on that.

Which leads us to Judge Colleen K. Sterne’s courtroom. Back in May, she was presented with the settlement, but felt she could not rule on it until there was public notice. Judge Sterne set July 23 as the date by which anyone that wanted to intervene in the lawsuit - and to comment upon the Settlement Agreement - to file papers. And that’s what happened today.

The Gaviota Coastal Trail Alliance, including Gaviota Coast Conservancy, California Coastal Protection Network, Santa Barbara County Trails Council and Coastwalk/California Coastal Trail Association, filed papers to intervene and object to the Settlement Agreement. The proposed Settlement Agreement is found here.

This is a big undertaking, and the Alliance is asking beach lovers and coastal access champions from across the state to donate to this effort.

Supporters are encouraged to contribute to what is expected to be a protracted effort for public access to Hollister Ranch.

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SF CBS Report: Marc Chytilo and Tam Chase on Hollister Ranch Settlement



Gaviota Coast Conservancy counsel Marc Chytilo and Santa Barbara kayak guide Tamlorn Chase were interviewed for San Francisco CBS Channel 5 regarding the Hollister Ranch Settlement and the difficulty of actually accessing the beach by sea as the settlement proposes. 

Together with a coalition of five organizations, Gaviota Coast Conservancy recently issued a group letter on the settlement to the CA Coastal Commission. The group invites supporters to donate to fuel the Hollister Ranch Coastal Trail Campaign

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Alert: Send comments on Hollister Ranch Settlement


Due to recent coverage in the LA Times, locally and elsewhere, a public comment hearing has been scheduled for Friday, July 13 (at the Hilton in Scotts Valley, 6001 Madrona Drive, near Santa Cruz) by the California Coastal Commission, who is considering a settlement regarding public beach access at Hollister Ranch.

Please send your comments before 7/6 to [email protected]

So far, more than 600 have been sent, the vast majority opposing the settlement. Judge Sterne will accept motions from individuals or organizations arguing that they have legal standing to intervene in the settlement, in the last chance to legally disrupt the agreement.

The Gaviota Coast Conservancy has been monitoring the YMCA easement issue for over a decade, including the litigation initiated by the Hollister Ranch against the California Coastal Conservancy when they accepted the offer to dedicate after Santa Barbara County refused.

We are reviewing the proposed settlement.

GCC believes that beach access is a core principal of the California Coastal Act and is protected by the California Constitution and the public trust doctrine.

Hollister Ranch occupies an extraordinary location on the California coast, with substantial biological, cultural, agricultural and recreational resources and opportunities present. There are significant public values at stake at Hollister Ranch. We are reviewing the proposed settlement and are conferring with other community organizations and agencies that have shown an interest in this issue.


Please share your comments with us:

For more, see the recent coverage:

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Rockin’ and Rollin’ Through Gaviota


Barney Brantingham of the Santa Barbara Independent joined Gaviota Coast Conservancy docents for a tour of the Gaviota Coast aboard a vintage railcar on November 5. The trip was a fundraiser for Gaviota Coast Conservancy. Here's Barney, on spending the day riding a vintage rail car along the Gaviota Coast.

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Gaviota Plan Stamped, Signed, and Delivered


On Election Day, November 8, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Gaviota Coast Plan, as documented here by the Santa Barbara Independent, in their story, Gaviota Plan Stamped, Signed, and Delivered. Gaviota Coast Conservancy was fundamentally involved, and is pleased with this result, after seven years with the GavPAC and 130 meetings... although it's really been about three decades of conversation. Thanks to Dorreen Farr (who championed this project in her district), Janet Wolf, and newly-elected US Congressmember Salud Carbajal!

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LA Times on Gaviota Coast Conservancy and community coastal preservation


Gaviota Coast Conservancy past president Phil McKenna and legal counsel Marc Chytilo were interviewed and featured in the LA Times piece (on 8/11/16) by columnist Steve Lopez, "Between Hollister and Gaviota, fighting to keep rural beaches rural — and public". Here's Steve's blogpost, that discusses the role community groups like Gaviota Coast Conservancy play in guarding precious coastal resources, as a pdf. Marc and Phil took the the reporter with LA Times photographer Allen J. Schaben to the stunning Naples coast. "We want to be able to save this stretch of coast as a wild and rural area for our children and our children's children to explore," said Chytilo. "We want it to serve as a refuge for wildlife and nature... and serve as an example of how people can protect the character of their own community."

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