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Thoughts on Protecting the Gaviota Coast

Threats and Challenges, from Drought to Development


I have been amused by the attacks on me in The Independent claiming that I am the devil incarnate who will despoil the Gaviota Coast and other natural gems in our region. Interestingly, the attacks come from a very small group of individuals who have endorsed another candidate and who have never taken the time to meet with me, speak with me, or apparently even to read my biography. The purpose of the attacks seems to be to preserve the existing county political structure and has nothing to do with preserving our precious remaining pristine coastline.

So just let me say up front, I am totally dedicated to preserving and protecting the Gaviota Coast.

Over the last few months I have met with dozens of the ranchers, farmers, and residents of the Gaviota Coast, from the Goleta city limit out to Point Concepcion. They are the ones who have been good stewards of the land and preserved it so that it is the pristine region that we all love. I have spoken with them in great detail about the threats to the coast and how we might deal with those threats. The challenges are many. Drought and water are always at top of mind. But so is over-regulation, and pressure from county urban planners who view the Gaviota Coast as an opportunity for a recreational rural Disneyland, by imposing upon private ranchers public parks and even camping in the midst of productive agricultural lands and adjacent to threatened species habitats. Anyone who has any knowledge of agriculture and environmental protection would never make such an outrageous proposal.

The ranchers, farmers, and residents of the Gaviota Coast state they are quite proud and satisfied with the process by which the Gaviota Coast Plan was first drafted — literally hundreds of meetings with other stakeholders under sometimes contentious circumstances — but now frustrated and angered by the county, which has hijacked the process and added yet one more threat to the Gaviota Coast.

My career with the Army Corps of Engineers has provided me an extraordinary toolset with which to help protect the Gaviota Coast. In various assignments I was responsible for authoring policies to incorporate environmental principles in domestic and international operations, was a leader in organizations that fought wildfires and contained oil spills, participated in the engineering for bank stabilization for rivers and lakes, and was personally responsible for a program to protect an endangered species in the Mojave Desert. I have a master’s degree in Infrastructure Planning from Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering that provides additional tools to inform my decision-making.

And of course 15 years of raising my family on the Central Coast have also had a profound influence on the way I think of conserving what is so wonderful about this beautiful place in which we live.

Let’s make this an election based on qualifications and ideas, not innuendo and character assassination. The residents of Santa Barbara County deserve nothing less.

Bruce Porter is a candidate for 3rd District Supervisor.



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