February 25, 2002
The rocky shorelines, sweeping views and rolling hills of 920 acres of the Bixby Ocean Ranch on the Big Sur Coast in California has been protected from development with the U.S. Forest Service’s purchase of the property from Trust for Public Land. The ranch, 13 miles south of Carmel and identified by the historic Bixby Bridge on Highway 1, would have been split into nine separate properties and sold for development if it had not purchased in August 2000 by TPL, according the group.
Since October 2000, TPL has kept the ranch off the market and worked to secure funding for the public purchase of the ranch by the USFS. The USFS’s purchase of the ranch creates an 11-mile stretch of permanently protected coastline beginning at the Bixby Bridge and extending south through Andrew Molera State Park. An additional 306 acres of the Bixby Ocean Ranch are proposed for acquisition later this year. TPL is leading a $2 million private fundraising effort to complete the acquisition of the entire 1,226-acre ranch property.
According to TPL, U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, an advocate for the protection of the Big Sur Coast, supported the appropriation of federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies for the Bixby Ocean Ranch purchase by the USFS.
The ranch, which sits at the northern edge of the Big Sur Coast, is home to redwood groves, freshwater springs, creeks and rare grasslands that support several threatened animal species.
Separately, the USFS is involved in a public process to revise the Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) for Los Padres National Forest. The Bixby property, along with other acquired lands within the Big Sur Scenic Management Area, will be addressed and zoned for appropriate access and uses as part of the revised Forest Plan. A draft Environmental Impact Statement will be released for public review and comment in late 2002. A final plan is expected in late 2003.
Los Padres National Forest spans some 1.75 million acres from I-5 and eastern Ventura County to the Carmel Valley area. The forest is habitat for 26 listed threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Los Padres also contains internationally recognized Native American rock art, according to TPL. The Big Sur Coast is within the Monterey Ranger District, one of five ranger districts within Los Padres National Forest. Headquarters for the Monterey Ranger District is in King City. The USFS headquarters is in Goleta. For more information about Los Padres National Forest, visit the USFS Web site at www.r5.fs.fed.us/lospadres.