Land Trust Receives Anonymous Donation for Gaviota Overlook

By Hattie Beresford   |   April 18, 2023
Looking west from the Arroyo Hondo Creek to the hills leading to Gaviota Overlook (photo by Hattie Beresford, 2020)

In 1960, the Brothers Four sang, “Once there were green fields, kissed by the sun. Once there were valleys where rivers used to run….” (Many of you know the tune.) 

Mike Beresford on the trail in Arroyo Hondo during the height of COVID. A welcome respite, and we were happy to wear the requested masks when encountering others on the trail. (photo by Hattie Beresford, 2020)

While the song is about a lost romantic love, in another, more literal sense, it could be considered a mourning for the loss of the landscape, as well. The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County is working to reverse that loss. Thanks to an anonymous gift of $500,000 to the Trust, fully two-thirds of the funds needed to obtain 48 acres of rolling hills adjoining Arroyo Hondo Preserve has been attained. 

The purchase of Gaviota Overlook comes at a time when community needs for access to nature are overlapping with the growing support for conservation of the rural and natural landscape. Today, with the pressure to move toward fields of cement or asphalt and forests of densely packed housing, it is more important than ever to preserve the spaces that soothe the human soul and help to retain our connection to nature.

The rolling grassland of the Gaviota Overlook property will add a new, unique habitat to Arroyo Hondo, benefiting local plants and animals and extending preserved wildlife corridors. It will also provide more space and trails to explore, and it will enhance the outdoor programs for over 26,000 local children from Santa Barbara County schools, and the thousands of others who visit the Preserve each year.

The intrinsic appeal of vast open spaces is borne out by the popularity of paintings of the local landscape. From Santa Barbara’s first resident artist, Henry Chapman Ford, to today’s pantheon of local artists, the beauty of the landscape has provided both subject and inspiration. The list of artists is extensive and their plein air portrayals uplifting and soulful. We don’t want them to become members of the Ash Can School.

While the beautiful Gaviota landscape is a living picture, the preservation of the natural environment has additional important consequences. Meredith Hendricks, Executive Director of the Land Trust, says, “With conservation management of the property, the climate benefits are enhanced, and the community will experience firsthand a practical approach to stronger local economies, food supply chains, and a slew of other public benefits.” 

The Land Trust knows that people and wildlife need more room to breathe and thrive. By accepting the calling of stewardship over the natural flora and fauna, they plan to preserve landscapes which support all denizens of the natural world. In the wake of this bounteous gift, there is hope that a swift upswell in community support will secure the rest of the funding ($210,000) needed to acquire Gaviota Overlook. Perhaps, soon, we can sing, “Now there are green fields, kissed by the sun….”  

To help the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County raise the remaining $210,000 needed to protect Gaviota Overlook forever as part of Arroyo Hondo Preserve, please go to


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