The many facets of the Natural Resources Program include Greenbelt Preservation, Land Stewardship, Natural History Education, Environmental Restoration, Environmental Mitigation, Project Assistance, and Training.
Greenbelt Protection. The City of San Luis Obispo is taking steps to effect the long-term preservation of its scenic, natural setting. These steps make up the Greenbelt Protection Program. Through this program the City acts to protect important resource lands and agricultural lands through the purchase of land or easements, dedications associated with granting of development entitlements, and acceptance of donations.
Prior to 1996, the City owned about 1,050 acres of land as open space. Since 1996, the City has:
- Acquired 2,076 acres of land in fee for open space.
- Acquired easements on 2,435 acres of agricultural or open space lands
- Protected or enhanced over 10 miles of local waterways.
- Expended $3,100,000 of City general funds for acquisition/resource enhancement.
- Matched the general fund money with $4,600,000 in outside funds for acquisition/resource management.
- Obtained land dedications worth approximately $2,200,000.
- Obtained easements worth $1.7 million from other sources.
The City frequently works with the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County in pursuing greenbelt protection projects. The City has also partnered with the Sierra Club to raise acquisition funds and to build trails in open space areas.
Land Stewardship. Working with the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County, the “SLO Stewards” program was created to empower citizens to help in restoration and management of the community’s open spaces. It teaches people about the importance of preserving and protecting SLO's natural heritage. Program activities include nature hikes, maintaining hiking trails, tree plantings and habitat restoration, and other outdoor educational activities. In collaboration with the City, ECOSLO publishes a quarterly SLO Stewards Newsletter.
Natural History Education. The City also has a Natural History Education program. City Staff and volunteers lead walks and give talks to school and Scout groups, civic groups, and the general public in the City’s parks and open space lands. The City Rangers have regularly scheduled hikes through City open space.
Environmental Restoration. Environmental Restoration takes advantage of development activities to build creek restoration, tree plantings, and other natural habitat improvements into the development process. Significant efforts at habitat-friendly flood control, as well as riparian, wetland, and in-stream habitat restoration are underway all along the length of San Luis Obispo Creek.
Environmental Mitigation. The City is involved in many projects of its own, and some of these have environmental impacts which can be major. The City Council and staff are committed to providing full and fair mitigation for the impacts of projects undertaken by the City. Some of these can be very significant, such as some of the City’s road projects or water supply projects. The Natural Resources Manager and Biologist work with project staff to avoid or reduce environmental impacts of projects, and assist in developing mitigations for projects where necessary.