Central Coast

California Sea Otter in Elkhorn Slough

Photo: Teddy Llovet

The California’s Central Coast is a unique area that offers all the best that the California Coast has to offer. From the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the rugged drama of the Big Sur coast, the wineries and ranch lands of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara’s sandy beaches, the beauty of the Central Coast is unsurpassed in the State. The Coastal Conservancy works with local, state, and federal partners to protect and enhance the region’s wildlife and habitats, recreational opportunities, farms and ranches, and waterfront economies. Our goal is to ensure that the natural and scenic resources found so abundantly in the Central Coast persist for the enjoyment of many generations to come.

Central Coast Project Priorities

  • Complete the Coastal Trail and Improve Access to the Coast — Beautiful, pristine beaches are found along the entire stretch, many of them backed by rugged coastal mountains. Demand for access continues to grow as the population grows and the region attracts more visitors. Development of the Coastal Trail and improved access to beaches and other protected lands is an important goal in the Central Coast region. There is an ongoing need to link existing trails and to open expand access opportunities, as well as to construct restrooms and other facilities. The Coastal Trail and regional trails that link communities to the coast benefit the region both by providing options for non-motorized transportation, while also expanding recreation opportunities and strengthening the tourist economy.
  • Protect Working Landscapes — Throughout much of the Central Coast, agriculture is a predominant land use as evidenced by the high productive fruit and vegetable farms of San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, as well as the expansive ranch lands of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Agricultural lands, and in particular range lands, provide additional benefits such as groundwater recharge, wildlife linkages, flood water retention, open space and scenic views. Through its agricultural preservation program, the Conservancy works to protect working lands through acquisition of conservation easements, assistance implementing enhanced management practices, and other measures.
  • Protect, Restore and Enhance Fish and Wildlife Habitat — The Central Coast supports a broad range of habitat types from wetlands, to coastal chaparral and grasslands to redwood forests. The region is a biological transition zone from southern to northern California and supports great biological diversity, including many threatened and endangered species. As elsewhere in the coast, central coast streams, wetlands, and other habitats are threatened with various types of development, as well as degraded conditions resulting from past destructive land uses and flood management actions. The Conservancy works to protect and restore these sensitive resources, adopting a holistic perspective that considers the needs of both natural and human communities.
  • Increase Climate Resiliency — With sea level rise, increased storm intensity, and other impacts of climate change, coastal habitats will experience significant stress and change in the coming years. Through its Climate Ready Program, the Coastal Conservancy is working throughout the Central Coast to help local communities prepare for these changes and to increase the resiliency of the coastal ecosystems.
  • Support Restoration of Waterfronts — Waterfronts in communities throughout the Central Coast offer support local economies through commercial fishing, recreational boating and fishing, tourism, marine science facilities, and other activities. The Coastal Conservancy works with local communities to revitalize waterfronts and promote economic development through sustainable use of their coastal resources. By caring for their resources, coastal communities can continue to reap the economic benefits for years to come.
Upper San Lorenzo River

Photo: Airplane Journal

Sea Odyssey Science Cruise on Monterey Bay

Photo: O’Neill Sea Odyssey

Arch Rock at Paradise Beach

Photo: Tim Duff

Mindego Hill-Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve

Photo: Audrey Rust

Central Coast Projects

Click on the links below to find out more about the Coastal Conservancy’s work.

SCC/OPC Project Viewer

SCC Project Viewer

Central Coast News

  • 2016 Sea Otter Grant Applications Due September 24
    The State Coastal Conservancy is now accepting applications for 2016 Sea Otter Recovery Grants. The grants will be funded with monies from the voluntary tax check-off box for sea otter recovery. Public agencies and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for the grants (see application instructions for details). Eligible projects include research, science, protection projects […] (Read more on 2016 Sea Otter...)
  • For Sale: The Victorine Ranch in Monterey County
    The California State Coastal Conservancy is offering for sale 100 acres (3 parcels) of spectacular undeveloped coastal land on the Big Sur coast, six miles south of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea.Consisting of three legal adjacent parcels, the property extends from coastal bluffs fronting Highway 1 to gentle marine terraces up and over a 1300 foot […] (Read more on For Sale: The...)
  • Thank You Ocean Podcast: San Clemente Dam Removal Project
    Since 1921, the Carmel River and its wildlife resources have been impacted by San Clemente Dam. As a result, the Carmel River suffers accelerated erosion, the once vibrant steelhead run has dramatically decreased, and lives and property below the dam are threatened with potential collapse of the dam — which has been deemed unsafe by […] (Read more on Thank You Ocean...)
  • Morro Bay-Port San Luis Commercial Fisheries Business Plan
    In January of 2007, the California Coastal Conservancy invested in the Morro Bay/Port San Luis Commercial Fisheries Business Plan (Plan), a comprehensive industry analysis and strategic planning effort for the Morro Bay and Port San Luis commercial fishing industry. The project implemented the Conservancy and Ocean Protection Council strategic plan objectives of establishing ecologically and […] (Read more on Morro Bay-Port San...)
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