Fourteen thousand acres of rolling green hills, pristine cattle grazing country, and wide open valley views smack dab in the middle of the Gaviota region are now forever protected. A long-brewing plan between rancher Louise Hanson, her family, and the California Rangeland Trust was finalized last week, making official a sweeping Agricultural Conservation Easement for Hanson’s historic property to be held in perpetuity by the trust. “Louise Hanson is an inspiration to us all,” said Rangeland Trust CEO Nita Vail while announcing the deal. “It is such an honor to support her longtime goal of preserving the incredible ranches she has put together.”
For Hanson, whose land is actually a collection of smaller parcels acquired throughout the latter half of the 20th century as she worked to expand her cattle operation, the conservation easement facilitates her stewardship-inspired desires to prevent the ranch from ever being subdivided. Moreover, the agricultural easement also means that the ranch, which is visible from both Highway 101 and Highway 1 east of the Gaviota Pass, will continue on as a place for running cattle (also one of Hanson’s wishes) and celebrating the rich, albeit increasingly endangered, legacy of California ranching.
The Hanson Ranch marks the fourth large property that the Rangeland Trust has helped protect in Santa Barbara County since 2006. A statewide nonprofit with the singular mission of preserving privately owned working ranches and the open space and habitat that compose them, the trust has helped create easements on El Chorro Ranch (817 acres also in the Gaviota neighborhood), San Lorenzo Ranch (595 acres near the Los Alamos Valley), and San Lucas Ranch (over 1,500 acres near the intersection of Highway 246 and Highway 154).