Santa Barbara’s Land Trust and Botanic Garden Team Up to Preserve Hay Hill

Posted on Oct 30 by SEASONS Magazine

Hay Hill by Bruce Reitherman.

Hay Hill by Bruce Reitherman.

The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden have teamed up to preserve Hay Hill, 88 acres of important wildlife and plant habitat in Toro Canyon.

Conserving land takes a vast amount of effort from many parties and often becomes work for several generations. In 2005, Ann Koepfli, a longtime Santa Barbara Botanic Garden supporter, gave the Hay Hill property to the Garden. For the next 10 years, the Garden maintained the space in a manner consistent with its mission to preserve the beautiful scenery that Koepfli believed was of the utmost importance to the denizens of Santa Barbara County. Earlier this year, John Gabbert, a Garden supporter and Trustee, decided to buy the property so that the land could always remain protected.

“It was important to the Garden that we find a way to ensure that the donor’s wishes would be preserved in perpetuity even without our direct ownership. To that end, the Land Trust was the obvious partner in helping to make this happen,” says Steve Windhager, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

The conservation of Hay Hill is one example of the flexibility of The Land Trust for Santa Barbara Country. They are often willing to work alongside private landowners to secure natural spaces. In this instance, The Land Trust is using a conservation easement to sever some development rights from the property while Gabbert renovates and expands one existing residence. The vast majority of the property included coastal sage scrub, live oak woodland, chaparral and grassland will remain unaltered.

“In John, we are fortunate to have a landowner willing to embrace the requirements of the deed, supportive of the mission of the Garden, and be interested in ensuring the permanent protection of the property with the Land Trust,” says Chet Work, Land Trust Executive Director.

John Gabbert adds, “this was an opportunity to participate in preserving this unique native property forever while at the same time strengthening the Garden’s long-term ability to encourage us all to participate in saving this planet we call home.”

Since its conception, The Land Trust has helped to preserve more than 25,000 acres of natural resource and working land, including the Arroyo Hondo Preserve, Sedgwick Reserve, Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, Coronado Butterfly Preserve, Point Sal, Carpinteria Salt Marsh, and several ranches on the Gaviota Coast.

For more information visit, or call 805/966-4520.

—Lauren Bennett


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