A large Central Coast ranch is now protected from development, thanks to a donation by a local family.
An agricultural easement covering 36 separate parcels and 3,255 acres of the Eagle Ranch in the hills southwest of Atascadero was donated outright to The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County by the Smith Family of Ventura County.
It's the largest conservation easement gift in the history of the organization known for other high-profile projects, like the Pismo Preserve and San Luis Obispo's Octagon Barn.
Executive Director Kaila Dettman told KCBX Thursday, the easement will go a long way toward controlling Atascadero's urban sprawl.
"Basically what this does, is it creates kind of a buffer," said Dettman. "It provides more protections to keep development closer to the city center where the services already exist, and leave the wildlands wild and keep housing development closer to the city core."
Dettman said the easement will keep the land as an agricultural asset, without public access. However, once a year, members of The Land Conservancy will get a chance to take a docent-led hike through the property.
VIDEO: Drone flyover of Eagle Ranch provided by The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County: