Gaviota Overlook next door to Arroyo Hondo Preserve on the scenic Gaviota Coast | Credit: Bill Dewey

A “mystery gift” of $500,000 to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County is going toward the addition of coastal grassland to the historic Arroyo Hondo nature preserve. The donation came at the end of February as part of the Land Trust’s fundraising campaign, which began on Valentine’s Day, to raise $750,000 to add 48 acres of land along the Gaviota shoreline to Arroyo Hondo’s existing 782 acres between Refugio State Beach and Gaviota State Park.

“This gift shows how compelling protecting the Gaviota Coast is — it’s the wild, special places where the public can go to get outside, hike, learn, and explore,” said Meredith Hendricks, Executive Director at the Land Trust.

The anonymous gift arrived earmarked for the 48-acre property known as Gaviota Overlook. If the Land Trust is able to raise the additional $210,000 needed to buy the land, it will be the first time in 20 years that public access is expanded for Arroyo Hondo, and the first new piece of Gaviota Coast conservation in 15 years. 

According to Katie Szabo, the Land Trust’s marketing and communications director, “The rolling grassland of the Gaviota Overlook property will add a new, unique habitat to Arroyo Hondo, benefiting local plants and animals, and, importantly, extending connectivity as a wildlife corridor.” It will also provide more space and trails in the preserve, enhancing outdoor programs for Santa Barbra students and outdoor enthusiasts. 

“We know people and wildlife need more room to breathe and thrive,” Hendricks said. “Securing the rest of the funding needed to incorporate Gaviota Overlook is a big step toward making these dreams a reality and the Land Trust is hoping for a swift upswell in community support in the wake of this amazing gift. “

To donate to the Land Trust, visit


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