Readers React: Why biodiversity and unfettered public access cannot coexist at Hollister Ranch

Curato Beach on the Hollsiter Ranch coastline.
Curato Beach on the Hollsiter Ranch coastline.
(Tamlorn Chase / For The Times)

To the editor: Hollister Ranch lies near Point Conception, where a cool southward-flowing ocean current meets the warmer waters of the Southern California Bight. This confluence sets up a unique transition region of extraordinary biodiversity.

High biodiversity thrives on Hollister Ranch largely due to the inaccessibility of the coast and the ranch’s stewardship through its managed access program. This program allows small groups, including schoolchildren, to visit the unique coastal area through supervised programs that serve to minimize human impact.

Some groups argue for both improved accessibility and better environmental preservation of Hollister Ranch’s coastal ecosystems. However, these two goals are mutually exclusive.


A recent study in the journal Science cites two reasons for dwindling biodiversity. First, highly biodiverse regions are not necessarily the regions targeted for preservation. Second, a large fraction of the lands set aside specifically for preservation are losing species diversity and ecosystem health due to intense human pressure.

The goal of the Coastal Zone Management Act, passed by Congress in 1972, is to “preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s coastal zone.” The Hollister Ranch agreement meets this standard while also allowing some public access.

Limitations on human impact are essential for the preservation of this uniquely biodiverse and unspoiled region.

Carter Ohlmann, Santa Barbara

The writer is a research oceanographer at UC Santa Barbara.



To the editor: Good news that the State Lands Commission is considering using its power of eminent domain to open up Hollister Ranch and allow the public to have access to its beaches.

In the 1920s, a riled up public got L.A. County to build a road through another gated coastal enclave, Malibu, in spite of its of its owner May Rindge’s objections. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the county’s action and said the public’s rights trump private property. The court said, “Public uses are not limited, in the modern view, to matters of mere business necessity and ordinary convenience, but may extend to matters of public health, recreation and enjoyment.”

Opening up eight miles of our beautiful coast along Hollister Ranch will provide the “air, exercise and recreation” that the court declared are “important to the general health and welfare.”

The current agreement Hollister Ranch has with the Coastal Commission must be killed. It’s a non-starter.

Michael Rose, Los Angeles

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