Rock Front Ranch

Join California Rangeland Trust in preserving Rock Front Ranch, located near northern Santa Barbara/southern San Luis Obispo.

Conserve Rock Front Ranch with California Rangeland Trust

A large cliff stands above the Rock Front Ranch, giving the ranch its name and serving as a gateway to the western end of the beautiful and resource-rich Cuyama Valley. Rock Front Ranch is a crucial wildlife corridor, allowing native animals to travel the protected portions of the valley without being forced to cross the highway. The ranch also serves as an important rest spot and nesting site for migrating bird populations, including the iconic peregrine falcon.

Historic California Ranch in the Cuyama Valley
Since 1900, ranching families have managed herds of cattle at this scenic gateway. Over a hundred years later, the landscape remains the same, and continues the tradition of horseback cattle ranching.

Facing pressures to sell this historic ranch, the current landowners proactively partnered with California Rangeland Trust to conserve their land for future generations of people, livestock, and wildlife.

We Need Your Help!

In November 2017, we received a challenge grant to raise $165,000. By June 2018, we’d secured more than $250,000, bringing us halfway to our total fundraising goal. We’re now in the home stretch!

The Rock Front Ranch celebrates a California heritage dating back more than 200 years. Today, it’s at risk of being lost forever. You can be part of conserving this rangeland landscape, and all the life it sustains.

Native wildlife rely on the Rock Front Ranch for safe migration.

Why We Must Conserve the Rock Front Ranch

The Cuyama Valley is situated across northern Santa Barbara and southern San Luis Obispo counties. It is a region especially threatened by conversion to more intensive agriculture such as orchards and vineyards, which have nearly drained the valley’s water basin while fracturing natural habitats and wildlife corridors. Such conversion degrades and, in many cases, destroys the environmental benefits derived from managed rangelands.

Degradation to the Cuyama Valley’s natural ecosystem would trigger a devastating ripple effect throughout the region. The valley has become a critical wildlife corridor for animals traveling to the larger conserved territories in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties. Cuyama Valley serves as a sanctuary for migrating birds, and is home to several endangered species that benefit from the healthy environments maintained by grazing cattle.

The owners at Rock Front Ranch decided that protecting this landscape is of vital importance. To achieve their goal, they teamed up with the Rangeland Trust to place a conservation easement on the ranch, ensuring it can forever remain undeveloped.

How We Plan to Protect the Ranch

In partnership with the landowners, California Rangeland Trust is seeking to place a conservation easement on the Rock Front Ranch as a strategic buffer protecting the Cuyama Valley and the life it sustains. Furthermore, we believe this project will highlight the need for preserving the valley and will help attract more conservation funds for the area. This project can also demonstrate to other landowners how conservation easements present an attractive alternative to selling all or part of their land for uses with high water demands on an already seriously impaired water basin.

Together, We Can Reach Our Goal

Securing the conservation easement for Rock Front Ranch will cost $500,000. An early grant from the Smart Family Foundation enabled preliminary work to begin on the easement. In November 2017, the Rangeland Trust received a Challenge Grant from the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation for $30,000, which was achieved in May 2018 when gifts from private individuals totaled more than $200,000! With this strong start to our fundraising efforts, we anticipate a timely completion of the conservation easement that will forever protect these 350 acres of rangeland—and the Cuyama Valley habitat beyond it – before any of it the ranch sold, subdivided, or converted to more water-intensive agricultural uses.

Join us and become part of conserving this iconic ranch! The Rock Front Ranch is on its way to becoming the first California Rangeland Trust conservation easement funded entirely through private donations. Please join us by making a gift today!