Fellow riders and interested community members have been asking, “What progress has been made on the Equestrian Staging area of the Pismo Preserve?”
SLO Horse News contacted Craig Campbell, Principal of the Wallace Group for an answer to that question. First a little back story . . .
In 2014, SLOHN writer Sharon Jantzen brought you the scoop on the much-anticipated purchase of the “Pismo Preserve”. For those of you unfamiliar with the actual property, it is that vast tract of pristine land located on the opposite side of the 101 Freeway from Pismo Beach. Acquiring this land for public use is a horse lover’s dream…riders will be able to forever enjoy panoramic views of arguably the most beautiful stretch of our South County, from Avila Beach all the way to the tip of the Oceano Dunes Preserve, as well as the entire town of Pismo Beach, the Pismo Pier, and beyond.
A simple walk half way up the hill on foot is breathtaking, we can only imagine how incredible it will be to explore the entire piece of land on the backs of our favorite mounts once it is open to the public later this year!
The battle for this property was hard fought and won by the people who wish to “preserve” the rural feel of our unique coastal community. It took raising 12.3 million dollars in an extremely short 6 month period to finalize the deal, and the efforts were very “grass roots in nature”, bringing together people from all across our community, especially equine enthusiasts. There will be parking lots and equine staging areas, restroom facilities, picnic areas, and miles of trails to explore once the preserve is officially opened.
Now that the purchase of the Pismo Preserve has been finalized, we asked Craig Campbell, who is assisting the Land Conservancy with the design and permits for the Pismo Preserve facilities, for an update on how the project is progressing.
What is the overall plan for developing the Pismo Preserve?
“The Pismo Preserve project is committed to being an excellent facility for equestrians and also for other trail users including mountain bikers, hikers, and runners. We have included an advising representative from each these groups. Soon we will be presenting the project to the various user groups, including some of the local equestrian clubs, providing a status report and obtained input.”
How are you involving real equestrians in the design and implementation process?
“Our equestrian adviser is Kathy Redden (also a member of SLOPOST) and of course the director of the Land Conservancy, Kaila Dettman is an equestrian and has provided valuable input as well. Kathy has been on site a number of times providing input on the equestrian parking and access, trail layout and equestrian user needs. She has helped us identify and review existing example equestrian parking areas and compare them to the site constraints to select the best concept for the Pismo Preserve.”
What is the vision for the Pismo Preserve Equestrian staging area and other public parking areas?
“There will be two separate parking lots, one paved and striped for passenger vehicles, and one aggregate based and primarily intended for equestrian users. Each will have restrooms, trail heads, and picnic areas. The equestrian parking area will also have steel railing or similar tie areas. We are currently reviewing concepts for fencing and cattle guards as a safety feature should a horse get loose.”
What are the top priorities for all the trails developed on the Pismo Preserve?
“Our focus on the Preserve is to create a trail system that is safe, sustainable, sensitive to the environment, and fun for all users. We also have been working hard to assess and address biological, cultural, coastal, fire, access, and neighborhood concerns. Much of this work is well on the way and incorporated in the project concept plans.”
When can we expect the Pismo Preserve to be officially accessible by the public?
“The project schedule is still evolving, and we will know much more in the coming weeks as environmental studies and review are completed. We hope to begin trail layout late this spring or early summer. We want to get some trails constructed early on to allow for seasoning prior to use. Ultimately the park will open to users when the parking and restrooms have been constructed (a grant requirement).”
Is there anything else you can tell us about the project?
“At the upcoming user group meetings we will provide more detail on the development of the overall project and the equestrian considerations. We are looking forward to this, and to hearing the input and believe that you will be pleased.”
SLOHN would like to thank Craig Campbell for this update, which specifically addresses the proposed Equestrian staging area and complimentary facilities of the Pismo Preserve. Please note that the Pismo Preserve is not yet open to the public as the facilities are under construction, though press releases and the current “signage” at the entrance tell us that the anticipated date of opening will be in the Fall of 2015.
If you are interested in more information about the Pismo Preserve, or want to find out more about the grass roots effort that made it possible, please read our archived stories under “Places – Where to Ride”. You can also visit the Land Conservancy of SLO website.
Photos: Sarah Williams