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Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs Easement

[Edited remarks before the County Board of Supervisors on the proposed Multi-Use Trail for the Modoc Trail made recently by Ted Rhodes, President of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs]

Although I am an avid biker who supports multi-use trails, I recently took set that hat aside to speak on behalf of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs before the County Board of Supervisors regarding the proposed mutli-use trail proposed for the Modoc Preserve.

Yes, it was our nonprofit organization, in partnership with the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County, who spearheaded the successful, heady, grassroots public acquisition efforts of the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve & Viola Fields some twenty plus years ago with the support of over 3000 donors, foundations, and public agencies, including the County of Santa Barbara.  We subsequently gifted the land to the City of Carpinteria as open space dedicated in perpetuity to passive and active recreation.

It is extremely important for everyone involved in this proposed multi-use trail for the Modoc Preserve to realize and acknowledge that, to ensure the Carpinteria Bluffs remain in natural open space in perpetuity, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, working on behalf of Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, used a critical tool – a conservation easement –  that became attached legally to the property and to the agreement with the City.  More recently, again on our community’s behalf, the Land Trust placed a similar easement on the Rincon Bluffs Preserve that the Land Trust and Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs subsequently acquired and also gifted to the City of Carpinteria. Such easements are necessary to ensure permanent protection of the open space qualities of special open space lands such as the Carpinteria Bluffs

Successful at protecting open spaces and ranch lands around our county, the Land Trust holds similar conservation easements on special lands all over Santa Barbara County.  This includes the Modoc Preserve.  It is no wonder that, at the recent Board of Supes hearing, I found it perplexing & most distressing that no county planner or other county staff members had contacted the Land Trust before proceeding full-tilt with this proposed multi-use trail through the Modoc Preserve.  Such wanton disregard of the conservation easement in place and attached to the property deed sets a very disturbing precedent for all of us here in this county involved in saving and protecting natural open space lands.

By giving this project the go ahead without further consultation with the Land Trust constitutes basically blowing off all our past diligent efforts & concerns, as well as current ones, to ensure, through conservation easements, that the natural qualities and conservation values of special places like the Carpinteria Bluffs, the Rincon Bluffs Preserve, the Sedgwick Reserve, and, yes, the Modoc Preserve remain protected in the future.  Such a vote to move this project forward at this time not only negates the past efforts the Land Trust has put in to protect the Modoc Preserve, it may jeopardize current & future efforts by many of us here in this County working so hard to protect countless other special places not only for us but for those who come after us.