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Coastline is county champ for grants

March 8, 2000

Oil company mitigation money will help pay for conservation easements.

Gaviota Coast preservationists were the big winners Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors handed out this year's nearly $877,000 in competitive grants from the county's Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund.

The most money, $303,268, went to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County to save parts of the scenic Gaviota coast from development. The private nonprofit group is to use the money to acquire agricultural and conservation easements that would cover three parcels along the Gaviota Coast.

The county grant "definitely gives us credibility when we go to talk to local land owners," said Michael Feeney, spokesman for the land trust.

The easements would be the among the first obtained by the land trust on the scenic rural coast. The county's grant requires the land trust to collect an equal amount of money from other sources to cover the entire easement purchase cost.

The Gaviota Coast is under consideration as a national seashore.

In a related grant, specifically requested Tuesday by Supervisor Gail Marshall, $27,000 was allocated toward a computerized county inventory of plants and animals on the Gaviota Coast, to help set priorities for areas to be preserved.

Marshall's request was one of two which countered staff recommendations for grants, but was approved unanimously by the board. The other was by Supervisor Naomi Schwartz. She asked for $26,000 to start preliminary county work to acquire beach access easements from Santa Claus Lane so a route can be inserted in the Toro Canyon Plan, a land-use blueprint of the area undergoing a county revamp.

Other CREF grants will help:

Buy a nearly 400-yard-long trail easement running east from Coast Village Road so pedestrians will no longer have to trespass and climb a fence to reach Hammond's beach, $51,500.

Establish a permanent Dunes Center Exhibit Hall in Guadalupe, $166,836.

Repay a loan for the expansion of the Cabrillo High School Aquarium, $123,335.

Create a park with bike trail by converting the two seaward lanes of Shoreline Drive between Loma Alta and La Marina Drive in Santa Barbara, $50,281.

Renovate a vacant ranger house at Arroyo Burro Beach as the Community Environmental Council's South Coast Watershed Resource Center, $50,000.

Process the Santa Barbara Shores/Ellwood Beach Specific Plan, which will determine land uses allowed for public and private parcels, $50,000.

Remove invasive pampas grass from UCSB's east bluffs and replant five spots in the Goleta Slough Management area with native coastal plants, $15,500.

Set up a marine education pilot program for fifth-grade students at Robert Bruce Accelerated School in Santa Maria, $9,070.

Improve the path and signs at the 7-acre garden of native Burton Mesa chaparral at Allan Hancock Community College, $2,271.

Build an above-ground pool and other elements of a sea bird rehabilitation facility planned by the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, $1,750.

The Board of Supervisors distributes CREF grants yearly from money paid by five offshore oil and gas projects to make up for their effects on coastal resources. There were 31 grant applications considered. Most grants pay only for a portion of projects.