The mission of the Chimineas Ranch Foundation is to protect and enhance the ecological values of the Chimineas Units of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve; support wildlife dependent recreation, education, and research compatible with those values; and to protect the historic and cultural heritage of the property.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), purchased a 30,000 acre cattle ranch known as the Chimineas Ranch and created two new units (North and South Chimineas) to be added to their existing Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve. The property has profound ecological significance at several scales. It provided the last link in an ecological corridor between the 250,000 acre Carrizo Plain National Monument and the 2 million acre Los Padres National Forest and hosts an extraordinary mosaic of habitats and species. Annual grasslands and oak savannahs support a growing herd of tule elk. Old-growth juniper woodlands, coastal scrub and chaparral mix with arid lands that are akin to vegetation communities in the Mohave Desert. Numerous State and Federal listed species inhabit the Chimineas and game species like deer and quail are well represented.
The Chimineas Ranch Foundation incorporated as a non-profit 501(3)c public benefit corporation in December 2007 to support CDFW in capitalizing on the tremendous opportunities presented at the Chimineas Ranch as a center for wildlife conservation, learning, and public use of the natural resources. The Foundation is run by an all-volunteer Board of Directors, so funds raised go directly toward habitat enhancement, public access, youth education, and ranch maintenance in support of the wildlife on the Chimineas Ranch. One of the Foundation’s long-term goals is to have an operating endowment to fund more projects and ensure ongoing maintenance.
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Given the ranch’s 30,000 acre size and ecological diversity, there is a great opportunity to work on projects to assist CDFW in enhancing and restoring the habitat and wildlife populations on the property. On-going projects have included creating new wetlands and brush piles for wildlife, installing new water sources to increase populations and combat climate change, and installing fencing to limit potential damage to riparian and pond habitat from cattle while simultaneously demonstrating the positive benefits of controlled grazing as a habitat management tool. Future projects may include invasive weed control, riparian planting, native grass restoration, and more.
In an era when many children are no longer forging a connection to the natural world, the Chimineas Ranch provides a unique opportunity to experience the outdoors. The Foundation supports apprentice youth hunts as a way to introduce a new generation to the joys, challenges and lessons of the sporting life. Groups such as Boy Scout troops assist with projects and learn the importance of a stable water source for wildlife in the face of climate change. Local universities use the facility as an outdoor classroom conducting wildlife research projects. Based on the ranch’s diverse flora and fauna educational opportunities are truly unlimited!
With 30,000 acres of land, miles of road, fencing and pipeline, and a beautiful ranch facility, there is always more maintenance to be done than the State can accomplish on its own. Whether it’s working on the headquarters landscaping, wrapping waterlines to the wildlife troughs to keep them from freezing, or fixing fences, the Foundation provides funding and volunteer support to help maintain the infrastructure, public access, and the buildings used for educational programs.