Last Saturday, the Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC) held its first annual fundraiser at the Music Academy of the West, where it honored Jack and Laura Dangermond for their extraordinary donation to The Nature Conservancy of a $165 million, 24,000+ acre property in December 2017.
During the reception, the 250 guests sauntered around the Marilyn Horne House terraces and rooms, mingling and perusing silent auction items. For the program in Lehmann Hall, guests were welcomed by emcee Chip Bell (formerly of Patagonia fame), and by recently hired Executive Director Doug Kern. Kern shared that while the event celebrates the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve, which has been dubbed the last perfect place in California, GCC wants to use the momentum of this gift to accomplish other necessary work to protect the coast.
A clear testament to the importance of this organization was the astounding number of current and former politicians present, including Congressmember Salud Carbajal, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Assemblymember Monique Limón’s representative Michelle Sevilla, County Supervisors Joan Hartmann and Das Williams, City Councilmembers Eric Friedman, Jason Dominguez, and Meagan Harmon, Santa Barbara School Boardmember Laura Capps, Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte and Councilmembers Kyle Richards and James Kyriaco, former congressmember Lois Capps, and former mayors Helene Schneider and Sheila Lodge.
GCC’s longtime general counsel Marc Chytilo explained that the goal of GCC is to hold the line on inappropriate development while advancing its vision of a permanently protected coast. GCC is currently engaged with about a dozen proposed development projects. GCC also recognizes the importance of agriculture in the region and seeks to promote regenerative agriculture. GCC wants to expand recreational opportunities, including more trails and getting the Gaviota pier reopened but Chytilo emphasized that it always seeks to strike the right balance between preserving habitat and allowing visitors. GCC is involved in efforts to create new open spaces, especially in the area between the Ritz-Carlton Bacara and Dos Pueblos Ranch.
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson passionately declared that we are stewards of this extraordinary coastline and are obligated to protect it for future generations. She related how the Gaviota Coast is globally significant as a biodiversity hot spot and that it is a confluence zone where southern and northern species mingle.
Accepting the Coastal Legacy Award on behalf of the Dangermonds was Michael Bell, The Nature Conservancy Director of the Dangermond Preserve. Bell explained that the Dangermonds built a company that provides about half the software used for geographic information systems. In their work, they traveled the world and became sensitive to the need for preserving critical areas such as the Gaviota Coast.
Bell shared how this global biodiversity hot spot harbors more than 56 species with special status, 14 of which are endangered. It is also a hot spot for evolution due to the environmental forces which collide here and create the energy necessary to drive evolution. Bell noted further the incredible value of the property as a cultural resource, with 10,000 years of human ecology important to the Chumash and all humanity.
After a short film showing the stunning beauty of the preserve, Jack Dangermond greeted guests via another short film. He shared how he and Laura fell in love with the land on their honeymoon in the 1960s when they camped there. Dangermond expressed deep gratitude to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, which he called an amazing organization doing important policy and advocacy work in the multi-front fight against development and providing conservation leadership in meaningful ways. He thanked GCC for giving him, Laura, and The Nature Conservancy the opportunity to acquire the land. Dangermond confided that he and Laura wanted to make the donation secretly, but TNC and others convinced them to go public in the hope of providing inspiration for other potential donors. He emphasized that it is the work of small conservation groups that matters and urged guests to remain active as more land needs to be conserved for future generations.
John Palminteri lead a spirited auction and Geoff Green did the paddle raise, which helped the event net about $60,000.
For more info, go to http://gaviotacoastconservancy.org.
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