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.

Central Coast Projects

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

Central Coast News

  • Coastal Conservancy Awards Grants for Coastal Access, Restoration, and Climate Resilience
    2/15/2024 – Today, the Board of the State Coastal Conservancy authorized a number of grants to restore, protect, and expand access to the California coast.  Grants approved included: A grant of an amount not to exceed $35,000,000 to The Nature Conservancy to complete permitting and implement the first phase of the Ormond Beach Restoration Public Access […] (Read more on Coastal Conservancy Awards...)
  • Coastal Stories 2024 RFP now open!
    The Coastal Stories 2024 grant program is now open! This grant program aims to support inclusivity of outdoor spaces for all Californians. The primary goal of the Coastal Stories Grant Program is to promote the representation of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), individuals with disabilities, immigrant communities, low-income communities, and other historically excluded groups […] (Read more on Coastal Stories 2024...)
  • Diablo Canyon Lands RFQ
    The California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) is seeking qualifications for contractors to assist SCC and its state and local agency partners, tribes, and community groups to plan for future land conservation and public and tribal uses of the roughly 12,000-acre Diablo Canyon Lands surrounding the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County. The […] (Read more on Diablo Canyon Lands...)
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