Amidst the world’s southernmost naturally occurring redwoods, and within earshot of the waves of the Big Sur coastline, Western Rivers Conservancy is working to conserve a 1,199-acre ranch along the Little Sur River. This important central California stream flows just over 25 miles from its headwaters in the Santa Lucia Mountains, within the Ventana Wilderness, down into a deep, redwood-shaded valley and into the Pacific, just north of Andrew Molera State Park.
The Little Sur River flows through an area that provides excellent habitat for imperiled wildlife, including threatened northern spotted owl, endangered California condor and threatened California red-legged frog, as well as a wealth of other animals. The river is considered the Central Coast’s most important spawning stream for threatened south-central coast steelhead, which once returned to this stretch of the California coast by the tens of thousands. Today, it is likely that fewer than 100 fish return to the Little Sur River each year, making our efforts to conserve the stream vitally important.
WRC has signed an agreement to acquire the Adler Ranch, which lies at the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, 20 miles south of Monterey. Our acquisition of the ranch will conserve roughly a mile of the Little Sur River and some of the southernmost stands of old-growth redwood trees. It will also preserve important upland grasslands, oak woodlands and chaparral and madrone forest.
Like other redwoods on the Big Sur Coast, the trees on the Adler Ranch property have genetically adapted to the warm, dry climate of Big Sur. The trees could be extremely important for future efforts to assist redwood survival in a warming climate, making their conservation essential.
WRC’s purchase of the ranch will link the protected public lands at Rancho Calera and Brazil Ranch, on the coast, to the main body of the Los Padres National Forest inland, helping to ensure permanent habitat connectivity between the ocean and the crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains. By acquiring the property and conveying it to the national forest, WRC would enable the creation of a hiking trail from Bottcher’s Gap Campground, in the mountains, to these public parcels on the ocean. It would also allow for trail connections from the Los Padres National Forest to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District’s Mill Creek unit and to the Boy Scout camp at Pico Blanco. These trail extensions and improvements would be a significant enhancement for the many hikers who visit Big Sur from around the world.