Meredith Hendricks’ family has lived in Santa Barbara since the 1870s.
While born and raised in the Bay area, she’s coming to the county with 20 years of experience as the new executive director of the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County.
In San Francisco, she expanded parks and access to recreation including developing portions of the Bay trail, creating new neighborhood parks and renovating them and conserving land on and around Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County.
“A lot of the king of the land that is on Mount Diablo is reflected here in Santa Barbara, with really complex ecological communities, a high demand for recreation and historic agriculture,” Ms. Hendricks told the News-Press. “So I’m very thrilled to be here and apply what I’ve learned there in Santa Barbara County.”
She spent seven years as the director of Land Programs at the nationally accredited land trust, Save Mount Diablo.
Ms. Hendricks also created the Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Program, which provides small grants to students for research and projects on Save Mount Diablo’s properties and protected land network.
On top of that, the environmental steward helped expand the regional Marsh Creek Trail network and helped resolve the 40-year long fight to protect the last 95 acres of historic Anderson Ranch from subdivision, thereby preserving it.
“I think Santa Barbara County has some of the best potential to protect agriculture, assemble recreation opportunities and preserve habitats,” Ms. Hendricks said. “In all of California, this is an incredibly special place.
“The climate here, the relationship between the coast going inland up and over several mountain ranges, the rolling oak woodlands. This county literally has it all in terms of what makes California the best place in the world to live.”
She said that she can see that people love living in Santa Barbara County because they all have their favorite places to spend time outside, and she wants to keep that true for their kids, grandkids and generations to come.
The Land Trust is currently working on finalizing as many as 10 conservation easements, conserving upwards of 15,000 acres of land in the county by the end of next summer.
This brings the organization’s total conserved acreage to 45,000.
The new executive director added that the Land Trust is looking at opportunities to preserve sections of the Gaviota Coast and ways to make more meaningful connections with North County, including Santa Maria and the Santa Ynez Valley.
“I think conservation links directly to all of our quality of life,” Ms. Hendricks said. “When you think about everyone having access to clean air, clean water and areas to spend time with their family and destress and exercise.”
“I think it’s important from an economic perspective,” she continued. “Areas that protect land and have lots of parks and open space have higher property value and more thriving communities. For me, conservation sits at the intersection between open space and habitat, but also the quality of life and a thriving community.”
To learn more about the Land Trust’s projects, visit https://www.sblandtrust.org.