HR Conservancy

The Hollister Ranch Conservancy

Most of the natural environment along the California coast has been compromised with residential & commercial development, recreational facilities, etc. The Hollister Ranch Conservancy was established in order to preserve and protect the indigenous flora and fauna as the Ranch was developed residentially. Indeed, through projects such as a native grass reestablishment program and an ecologically sound cattle grazing operation, the Ranch is in better shape environmentally than previously. Many outside forces seek to alter the natural environment at the Ranch. A number of energy companies have sought to develop the Ranch. Some would like to see the Ranch used as a recreational destination for thousands of people. The Conservancy works to discourage such inappropriate development.

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Hollister Ranch is located between Gaviota and Point Conception and covers approximately 14,400 acres, including eight and one half miles of south-facing coastline. It is divided into 133 parcels owned by individuals, plus three parcels owned by all the owners in common—two beach parcels running the length of the Ranch and a parcel with the historic Hollister House, barns and employee housing. The ranch roads are contained in 200-foot-wide pass and repass easements over private parcels. The Ranch lies at the juxtaposition of the northern and southern California ecosystems, with unusual overlapping of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species. It embraces a Shoreline Preserve, a 2.2 mile protected intertidal area with pristine tide pools. Marine mammals regularly haul out at Ranch beaches, and migrating birds use the beaches and ponds to rest and feed. There are extensive CC&Rs and Ranch rules with the primary purpose of preserving the unspoiled character of the land. Hunting is not allowed, nor are personal watercraft, motorcycles or similar vehicles. Access to private parcels is limited to twelve owners and twelve guests at any one time. Owners regard the Ranch as a natural preserve.The Ranch, as part of the original Rancho Nuestra Señora del Refugio, has been a working cattle ranch since the original grazing permit was awarded to José Francisco de Ortega in 1791. The Hollisters purchased the land in 1866 and held it until 1966 when it was sold and eventually developed in 1971 as a unique development concept that was designed to keep the Ranch an unspoiled natural resource. It continues to operate as a working cattle ranch by virtue of management by the Hollister Ranch Cattle Cooperative.

Conservancy Projects

Tidepool Classroom

The Hollister Ranch Conservancy Tidepool School program was developed in the early 1990s with the help of other owners by Wendie Kruthers, and she has coordinated its operation since that time. The program introduces a pristine intertidal area, rich with sea life, to third to seventh graders from Orcutt, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara. The two-hour Tidepool School Program consists of the school children, their parents and their teachers. There is one adult chaperone for every four to five students. For every ten children, the HR Conservancy, with money raised from various fundraisers, hires one docent. Graduate students with very impressive resumes make up the pool of docents from which we draw for the tidepool program. The Tidepool School host(s) - volunteer HR owners - greets the school group, gives a lengthy orientation, introduces the docents and generally oversees the rest of the program. What treasures of plants and animals that are found in the tidepools vary from trip to trip. By the end of the program the children have held and touched many critters. The docents have told the students fun facts about what they have seen. The students also go away with a new appreciation of the fragile balance of the plants and animals in our healthy tidepools teaming with life. At the end of the program everyone gathers into one big group. The docents go over what the kids have seen and learned and answer any questions. This is now a very different group than those who arrived just a few hours before. They are excited about their experience and some are even talking about becoming marine biologists. As they board their buses to go back to school, they are each given a HR Conservancy paste-on tattoo as a remembrance of their special day.

HR History Book

For many years people have wondered about the history of the Ranch. How did this beautiful piece of land become the beautifully preserved coastline that we know? One can find bits and pieces of history of this area in various publications, but often the dates and facts are not quite right. Now all the information is in a new book entitled “The Hollister Ranch, Its History, Preservation and People”. The book begins with the Chumash Indians, the Spanish, the Hollister family (with a diagram of their full family tree) and continues onward to virtually the present day. Nancy Ward, a longtime owner, originally proposed this project many years ago, and saw it through to its completion in December 2005. The book was financed by the first Art Sale at the Hollister House put on by the Oak Group and a few guest artists, and was sponsored by the Hollister Ranch Conservancy. Many people contributed to this beautiful book. Besides the written history contained in the book, there are also many color reproductions of Ranch paintings, historical photographs, maps, documents and native botanical and wildlife drawings For anyone and everyone who loves the Ranch, this is a must read, a fantastic gift and a valuable addition to one’s personal library. It is available at the HROA office for $40. To have a book mailed to you, please contact Nancy Ward at 1-805-567-0210 or Wendie or Jeff Kruthers at 805-567-0088.