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The Wilderness Land Trust protects 29 acres of private land in California's treasured Ventana Wilderness

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Wilderness Land Trust just completed purchase of a 29-acre private property surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness in Central California. The property is located adjacent to the Milpitas Special Interest Area of the Los Padres National Forest, on the access road to the Santa Lucia Memorial Park, including a campground and trail entrance point to the Ventana Wilderness. Just 35 air miles southeast of Monterey, acquisition of the property protects campground and trail access to the Wilderness and prevents future development in the home range for the endangered California condor.

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"As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, it's important to work with valued partners like The Wilderness Land Trust to protect natural and cultural resources adjacent to the Ventana Wilderness and enhance public access to these special lands," said Los Padres National Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez.

Ancestors of the Salinan people called the upper reaches of the San Antonio River home for many centuries. In 2005, at the urging of Salinan descendants and others, the Milpitas Special Interest Area was created by the Los Padres National Forest

"Those who frequent the Ventana Wilderness and surrounding lands all have their special places, but few are as magical and spectacular as Milpitas Special Interest Area (SIA). It has been studied by academics and enjoyed by individuals and families for generations. In 2012, the Ventana Wilderness Alliance facilitated an agreement between Los Padres National Forest and Mountain Heritage Associates to create a comprehensive management plan for the Milpitas SIA with input from the Salinan tribes, recreational users, and the local community. This acquisition by the Wilderness Land Trust further protects the outstanding ecological, scenic and cultural values of the area. We are thankful to the Wilderness Land trust for their efforts." said Mike Splain, Executive Director of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance.

This is the third property the Trust has protected in the Ventana Wilderness in the last two years—the Trust also protected the 120-acre Lost Valley property in late 2012 and the Three George's property in late 2013. Both these properties were in the home range of the California condor and along another important access route into the Wilderness, the North Coast Ridge Road, with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and of the vast Santa Lucia mountains to the east. Both had grandfathered motorized access and residential rights, but are each now a protected part of the Ventana Wilderness.

"The land is one of only three properties remaining in private ownership in or adjacent to the Milpitas Special Interest Area," said Aimee Rutledge, the land trust's California Program Manager. "Private uses inconsistent with wilderness would have despoiled an unbroken expanse of meadow along the north fork of the San Antonio River with gorgeous views of the surrounding valley and rock outcrops."

Two ecological zones dominate the Milpitas Special Interest Area, dry mountain slopes covered by chaparral and a narrow valley with an oak savannah that is crossed by streams joining with the river running through it. Impressive outcrops of bedrock interrupt the valley bottom, helping to create opportunities for plants to grow in shaded, moist environments. Some of the outcrops are like fortifications protecting the plants and animals living there from both the summer heat and the winter cold.

Underground, the bedrock interrupts the flow of water, resulting in springs that contribute to moist wetlands and pools of standing water. All of this – the exposed arid brush land, the valley oaks, the stream bottoms, and the rock – provided an ecological diversity and a wealth of food and raw materials for people, going back thousands of years.

The Big Sur and Milpitas areas of the Ventana Wilderness include many miles of popular trails connecting to several State Parks on the ocean and in the Santa Lucia range. The area features iconic views of both the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains, and offers hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, photography opportunities and birding.

The Wilderness Land Trust
The Wilderness Land Trust is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land. Since it was founded in 1992, the non-profit organization has preserved 409 parcels comprised of more than 41,000 acres of wilderness inholdings in 90 designated and proposed wilderness areas. The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado. For more information visit our website www.wildernesslandtrust.org.

The year 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which designated 9.1 million acres as the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Land Trust's work is more relevant than ever, striving to protect the integrity of what is now more than 109.5 million wilderness acres for current and future generations to enjoy.

The Wilderness Land Trust is an accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is a 1% for the Planet Non-Profit Partner. Visit www.onepercentfortheplanet.org to learn how individuals and businesses can support our projects.    

Contact:  Aimee Rutledge, California Program Manager
415-606-5895, [email protected]       

SOURCE The Wilderness Land Trust

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