Conservation Group Purchases Stretch of Santa Barbara County Coastline With $165 Million Donation

A conservation group on Thursday purchased a sprawling stretch of Santa Barbara County coastline — a prized acquisition made possible by a $165-million gift from a couple who had long sought to protect the pristine ranchland from development.

The nonprofit Nature Conservancy acquired the Cojo-Jalama Ranches, which comprise roughly 24,000 acres and eight miles of coastline south of Vandenberg Air Force Base, from a New England investment firm, said Michael Bell, director of the conservancy’s California ocean program.

Valued for its sacred sites by the Chumash and operated for more than 100 years as a cattle ranch, the twin parcels straddling Point Conception are a time capsule of oak woodlands, coastal prairies and beaches whose breaks are revered by surfers.

“This is not just any place,” said Mike Sweeney, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in California. “It’s ridiculously beautiful out there. It’s not a big property, just an exquisitely placed property.”

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