Sand Hill Bluff, in Santa Cruz County
south of Davenport purchased in a joint partnership andd jointly funded
from federal, state and private partner monies, is a 5,000-year-old Native
American Archeological Site. Agricultural operations and pristine beaches in an acquisition assuring public access to a
location of historical significance is momentous. A portion of the land will be protected
and preserved as farms, disappearing commodities eaten up by California population growth.
The California Resources Agency announced
that the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation
group, along with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the
Department of Conservation, the Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have partnered to
permanently shield from
development the 154-acre Sand Hill Bluff property. Part of the property
valued at $12 million, will be added to the California State Parks system.
Sand Hill Bluff is wedged between Coast Dairies—a vast 7,000-acre property
protected by TPL in 1998—and Wilder Ranch State Park. Located off Highway
One south of Davenport, Sand Hill Bluff is one of the last links in a series
of acquisitions adding up to more than 13 miles of coastline and nearly
acres of land.
What to expect: The property
will eventually be open to the public and visitors will be able to view the
ocean from the high coastal bluffs, enjoy clean, protected beaches and visit
a 5,000-year-old archeological site. Left behind by ancestral Ohlone
peoples, the impressive site is includes one of the oldest known human
occupations and one of the best preserved archeological sites in California.
How it came about: The California Department of Parks and Recreation
acquired a 90-acre portion closest to the shoreline to manage for public
access and recreation. Arranged by TPL, protection of the coastal resources
is possible due to voter-approved Proposition 40 state bond funds, $3.1
million from California Department of Parks and Recreation Caltrans
Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation program contribution of $500,000.
The State Department of Conservation’s Farmland Conservancy Program and the
Conservancy also contributed $2 million each, from voter-approved
Propositions 12, 40, and 50, toward the purchase of the remaining 64 acres
with the intent that this land stay in agricultural production as it has for
more than 100 years.
TPL transferred this portion of the
property to Agri-Culture who will own and
manage it until they find a farmer to purchase the property restricted with
an agricultural conservation easement. Similar coastal lands have been set
aside for agricultural use in Sonoma County and have provided a living zoo
of sorts with cattle, other livestock and fields of fruits and vegetables
not seen in huge cities along the coast. Much of Sand Hill Bluff is
designated farmland of statewide importance to ensure that the farming of a
variety of crops, such as Brussels sprouts and artichokes, could continue on
the land. Sand Hills Bluff is an example of farmland under pressure from