Bixby Ocean Ranch Purchased by Forest Service

SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 27, 2002 (ENS) - Hundreds of acres of the most famous stretch of California coastline - the much photographed and filmed Bixby Ocean Ranch in Big Sur - has been added to the Los Padres National Forest, creating creating an 11 mile stretch of permanently protected coastline beginning at the Bixby Bridge and extending south through Andrew Molera State Park.

Big Sur

The Big Sur includes some of California's most spectacular coastline (All photos courtesy USFS)
At the northern end of the Big Sur coast, Bixby Ocean Ranch frames the most beloved and most photographed stretch of the Central California coast. The ranch, 13 miles south of Carmel, was slated to be split into nine separate properties and sold for development.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL) purchased 920 acres of the ranch last August and has since kept it off the market while working to secure funding for the public purchase.

"The protection of the Bixby Ocean Ranch as the Big Sur Coast's most recognized property is conservation on a national scale benefiting the millions of people who visit the coast now and for generations to come," said U.S. Representative Sam Farr, a California Democrat. "The property, once it is open to the public, will provide opportunities for enjoyment of scenic, historical, and scientific values along the Big Sur Coast. Protecting this important national landscape is a top priority."

Farr, a longtime 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 U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

"The Bixby Ocean Ranch property offers a splendid location to interpret the natural and cultural history of this unique area," said Los Padres National Forest supervisor Jeanine Derby.

coastline

Some of California's rugged Big Sur coastline
"One concept we hope to explore with the public is a way of melding science with the arts to help enhance people's experience, understanding, and appreciation for the Big Sur coast," added Derby. "Perhaps establishment of a local foundation or some similar approach would be appropriate. The existing buildings on the property, including two houses and a barn, could help facilitate this goal."

Derby also said that the Forest Service wants to ensure that recreation activities on the Bixby Ocean Ranch property are compatible with the area's scientific, historic and aesthetic values.

The Forest Service's purchase of the ranch, which was at one time owned by Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame, 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.

The ranch, considered the crown jewel of the Big Sur Coast, is easily identified by the historic Bixby Bridge on Highway 1. Images of the Bixby Ocean Ranch with its stunning views of the Bixby Bridge, pristine beaches and coastal bluffs are used in various national and international advertisements for cars, credit cards and airlines.

In addition to its photogenic qualities, the ranch, which sits at the northern gateway to the Big Sur Coast, is home to redwood groves, freshwater springs, creeks, and rare and extensive grasslands that support several threatened animal species.

The TPL is leading a $2 million private fundraising effort to complete the acquisition of the entire 1,226-acre ranch property.

"The Bixby Ocean Ranch has come to symbolize the pristine, majestic beauty of Calfiornia's Big Sur Coast in the national imagination and we must complete its protection," says Debra Geiler, senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land.

"We still need $2 million to complete the public purchase of the remaining 306 acres," continued Geiler. "We are very grateful for the support the protection of this national treasure has already received including $5 million granted from the Coastal Conservancy, in addition to federal Land and Water Conservation Fund monies, and a low interest bridge loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. We have also received a generous $2.5 million gift from an anonymous donor."

Los Padres

Los Padres National Forest (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service)
The Forest Service is now 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 and a final plan is expected in late 2003.

Los Padres National Forest spans some 1.75 million acres from Interstate 5 and eastern Ventura County to the Carmel Valley area. The forest encompasses some of the most ruggedly beautiful landscapes to be found anywhere in California.

The forest is managed to sustain its watersheds, its scenery and recreation values, and its diverse ecosystems, including habitat for 26 threatened and endangered plant and animal species.

More information about Los Padres National Forest is available at: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/lospadres