El Rancho Español de Cuyama


One of the earliest of California’s original land grants, dating back to 1843, the now 5,652-acre Spanish Ranch (AKA El Rancho Español de Cuyama) is the largest remaining piece of what once covered more than 70,000 acres. The Spanish Ranch is unique for its geological formations, six different habitats, watershed, archaeological history, and agricultural resilience.

The landowners have partnered with the California Rangeland Trust to conserve the Spanish Ranch, a historic California ranch in an area that is vital for migrating wildlife. Help us keep intact the largest remaining ranch in the Cuyama Valley.

We have received over $900,000 from private foundations who wanted to inspire friends like you to get involved. Will you respond to help match their commitment and conserve the Spanish Ranch.

Fundraising Goal | $1,000,000

Why We Must Conserve the
Spanish Ranch

From the early Chumash Indians to the Californios and through today, the land has a rich agricultural history. The historic roots of the Spanish Ranch continue to be honored today – even the original 1870s adobe still functions as the property headquarters.

Today, the Spanish Ranch is a working cattle ranch that also supports firefighter training and has served as a staging site for battling wildfires in the region. The ranch is a community resource for local youth groups and other organizations in the surrounding area. As land continues to be developed to meet a growing population, conservation of the Spanish Ranch will help tilt the scale for the environmental values we need. The more we can conserve, the better the future for all of California’s people and wildlife, even far beyond the Cuyama Valley.

Located in one of the last undeveloped coastal valleys in Central California, the Spanish Ranch is in a region especially threatened by conversion to other intensive uses, which has almost 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.

A working landscape like we have - and we hope to conserve with a conservation easement - uses the land and enhances the land and that’s what the California Rangeland Trust has been able to do with hundreds of thousands of acres already. And I want to be a part of that.

Enjoy this brief video about the ranch and history that you can be part of conserving:

How We Plan to Protect the Ranch

In partnership with the landowners, the California Rangeland Trust is seeking to formalize a voluntary, legal conservation agreement for the Spanish Ranch in recognition of its historical and community significance and environmental value. Once funding is secured, the California Rangeland Trust conducts a wide array of biological due diligence to understand fully what we are conserving. A plan is developed in partnership with the government funding agencies and landowners to manage the environmental assets, and a baseline report is compiled for annual monitoring by the Rangeland Trust to ensure the aspects of the conservation agreement are being observed. This relationship between the Rangeland Trust and our landowner partners follows the deed for the land through all current and future ownership, in perpetuity.

We believe that this project will highlight the need for preserving the Valley and attract more conservation funds for the area. Conserving the Spanish Ranch will help make the valley a beacon for wildlife and environmental preservation. It 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.

Join us today and become a part of conserving this historic ranch! By making a gift today you ensure it remains protected forever.

We have already secured 90% of the funding needed in early commitments from area foundations, government agencies, and generous Rangeland Trust donors who see the value of this project for the region and all of California. If you help us match the investment from local foundations, we will have significant leverage to seek a second agency grant to meet our goal. With your support, we can achieve conservation that will forever protect these 5,652 acres of rangeland – and the Valley habitat beyond it – before any of it is sold, subdivided or converted to more water-intensive uses. 

Be a part of conserving this historic ranch by making a gift today!