The La Purisima Conservation Bank Turns 2!
Two years ago, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County conserved 853 acres of California tiger salamander habitat in the La Purisima Hills northeast of Lompoc. This land was placed into permanent protection though a public/private partnership known as a “conservation bank.”
Conservation banks provide financial incentives for certain landowners to preserve forever valuable habitat on their property while simultaneously streamlining the process for other landowners to negotiate the necessary development approvals on less important habitat. The landowner can be compensated for protecting important resource values on their land.
Securing the future of Santa Barbara County California tiger salamanders will require protecting large tracts of land, including the ponds where they breed and the surrounding uplands where they forage and shelter in ground squirrel burrows. Tools that allow private landowners to benefit by voluntarily protecting endangered species on their land can be a powerful force for recovery.
The Bank property, which consists of grassland, oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub, includes one of the largest blocks of critical habitat in Santa Barbara County for the endangered California tiger salamander. Habitat enhancement on the property also helps the western spadefoot toad and may encourage California red-legged frog breeding. The property will be managed in perpetuity for the protection of these species, as well as other sensitive plants and animals.
Once all of the credits in the La Purisima Conservation Bank are sold (we estimate 5 – 10 years), the Bank will cease to exist, but the 853 acres of California tiger salamander habitat will remain protected forever. Like many of the Land Trust’s other properties, we will continue to hold and monitor the La Purisima easement in perpetuity. For photos of the annual survey conducted recently, click here.
While conservation banking is somewhat new, it is an important tool for protecting land in Santa Barbara County. The Land Trust is grateful to the partners that helped to establish this innovate project in our county: The Conservation Land Group, the landowner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Rancho Purisima, LLC.