IMG_6859Rancho Las Cruces, Gaviota

On one of the larger private ranches in the county, owners Jonathan & Nancy Kittle granted a conservation easement on 900 acres of upper watershed land to The Nature Conservancy in 1973. The easement, which protects the oak woodland, chaparral, grassland, small streams and springs on this part of Rancho Las Cruces, was transferred to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County in 1984. Rancher Louise Hanson purchased the property with the conservation easement in the 1980’s. The easement permits the landowner to pasture and graze livestock, and to build and maintain water-related improvements. In August 2016 the easement was transferred to the California Rangeland Trust and will continue to be protected in perpetuity.