A historic event of no small occasion took place at the Santa Barbara Club: It was a gathering of ranchers from Santa Barbara County and neighboring areas who brought together a collective passion to preserve our ranching heritage. Santa Barbara has not only the largest amount of original land grant ranches but the greatest number of ranches still in the original families. From left, Elizabeth Poett Campbell, representing Rancho San Julian (largest ranch in the region owned by the original family ? De la Guerra); event chairman Eric Hvobol, representing La Paloma Ranch; and Nita Vail, CEO of the California Rangeland Trust, who was brought up in the Vail & Vickers ranching tradition on Santa Rosa Island.Representatives of the California Rangeland Trust were on hand to describe the trust?s dedication to conserving California?s working ranches that provide stewardship of open space, watersheds, air quality, wildlife habitat and local food supplies. They emphasized the importance of grazing and grassland for groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration and as a buffer for wildfires. From left, Marcia Morehart, a descendant of the Dominguez family, which obtained the first land grant in California, Rancho San Pedro (L.A. County) in 1784; Missy Chandler DeYoung, whose late husband?s family purchased the Los Angeles Times in 1882 and owned the Tejon Ranch, the largest ranch in California during the 20th century; and Lois Adam from Rancho La Brea ? her husband and his two brothers are sixth-generation farmers in Santa Maria.Members of the younger generation of ranchers discussed growing up playing on fields and in streams. They are eager to continue the tradition of ranching and what it does for the environment, which includes improving soil health, building up organic material, increasing the quality of forage, and providing the ability to infiltrate ground water. Katy King Sharer is a descendent of the Orena and Rickard families part of their original land, Rancho Los Alamos de Santa Elena, remains in the family. Luke Branquinho is a descendant of Jose Francisco Ortega, owner of the first and only land grant given during Spanish times in Santa Barbara County, Rancho Nuestra Senora del Refugio.