Visiting the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

What’s so special about the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve?

The Ranch is far from the largest of coastal ecosystems, but packs more biological diversity into a confined area than many larger properties. It is bordered on the north by a mile and a half of riparian habitat that encompasses tidal effect zones, seasonal freshwater marshes and wetlands dotted with birds. The Monterey pine forest (part of three remaining native stands in the world) serves as habitat and cover for wildlife moving between the coastal range and the ocean bluffs.

The Ranch is bisected by Scenic Highway 1. Santa Rosa Creek offers migrating species a wildlife corridor that is not in competition with highway-speed traffic. The result is an amazing display of nature's diversity including a number of endangered species and species of special concern. Red-legged frogs, tidewater gobies, western pond turtles, steelhead, monarch butterflies, great blue herons, burrowing owls, and Cooper's hawks are ranch residents along with the compact cobweb thistle and the SLO County dwarf morning glory. Coyotes, black-tailed deer, and the occasional bobcat pass under the highway bridge to the western slope in search of dry season springs and forage.

The most outstanding natural feature of the preserve is the dramatic ocean bluff that runs more than a mile along the shoreline. The rocky coast rises to a 400-foot ridge with breath-taking views of migrating whales, birds and playful otters before sloping southeastward to the willow-edged creek. Each spring, the meadows boast beautiful wildflower displays.

The Ranch offers a rare expanse of nature and solitude, almost a back county experience, but within walking distance of visitor accommodations and neighborhoods. It is free and open to the public every day of the year from dawn until dusk.

Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve having a picnic on the ranch A trail through the dried grass on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
Aerial view of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

History of the Ranch

Before the Spanish arrived on the Central coast, Chumash and Salinan people gathered plants and hunted game on the bluffs and hills of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. This era ended when the land became part of Rancho Santa Rosa, a Mexican Land Grant. The Rancho then sold as several properties, one of them becoming the Fiscalini Town Ranch. The Fiscalini family owned the property for nearly a century, raising first dairy stock and then beef cattle.

The family sold the Town Ranch out of tax necessity in 1979 and it went through a series of development plans by ambitious owners. These plans were blocked by Friends of the RanchLand until they realized that the only way to save the land was to buy it, bringing in the American Land Conservancy (ALC) in 1999.

North Coast Small Wilderness Area Preservation (now Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve) was formed as the local organization to assist the ALC in fundraising efforts. The State Coastal Conservancy, San Luis Obispo County Parks, the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) and Cal Trans all pledged funds to save the Ranch but these funds needed to be matched by local efforts.

Cambrians, through numerous fundraisers, donations and an eleventh hour donation by Midstate Bank of their creek side property, accomplished the impossible. With hard work and determination the purchase was finalized in November of 2000. The Ranch now belongs to all of us, forever.

The Ranch is open for public enjoyment every day. The CCSD manages the property for the public and as Conservation Easement holder for the property; it is FFRP’s job to protect the very nature of the Ranch.