Exploring the History of Hollister Ranch: From Cattle Ranching to Coastal Preservation
Hollister Ranch is a 14,400-acre private landholding located in Santa Barbara County, California. The property, divided into 100-acre parcels, is known for its stunning coastal landscape and rich history. From the Chumash people to the Ortegas, and finally the Hollister family, the ranch has been home to many different groups throughout the years.
One of the most consistent and productive agricultural activities on the ranch is cattle ranching. The Hollister Ranch Cattle Cooperative is one of the largest cattle ranching operations in the county and is a leader in sustainable ranching practices. Despite the beautiful landscape, farming has been difficult due to factors such as strong winds, lack of flat land, and limited water. As a result, cattle ranching remains the only sustainable form of agriculture on the ranch.
Efforts to turn the ranch into a National Seashore in 2003 were rejected by the U.S. Department of Interior. The Pennsylvania Railroad also attempted to develop the property into a community of 20,000 residents, with 6,700 lots and an RV park, but that plan died with the financial collapse of the railroad in 1970.
Today, the Hollister Ranch Owners' Association manages the property, with the Hollister Ranch Conservancy assisting with the management of natural and cultural resources. Sustainability and the preservation of coastal ecosystems are the guiding principles of ranch life and operations, with disturbing wildlife habitat or removing native vegetation strictly prohibited. The ranch remains remote and the cost of maintaining farming operations remains prohibitive.