Ever since a small group of local forest advocates gathered around a picnic table in 2004, ForestWatch has served as a powerful advocate for our region’s wildlife habitats and wilderness landscapes. With over 800 supporters, ForestWatch is leading the charge to protect and restore the forests, chaparral, grasslands, rivers, wildlife, and wilderness along California’s Central Coast. We are the only organization focused solely on protecting our region’s public lands, from the famed Big Sur coastline, to San Luis Obispo’s Santa Lucia Range and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, to the rugged backcountry of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
By effectively combining legal advocacy, scientific collaboration, and community outreach with innovative strategy and field work, we have built a solid track record of protecting these wild places—more than 88,000 acres of them in fact. In addition, more than 500 ForestWatch volunteers have helped us restore degraded wildlife habitat throughout the forest. Whether you care about wild forests, free-flowing rivers, untrammeled chaparral, or the creatures that inhabit these beautiful places, ForestWatch will continue to ensure that they have a voice.
Where We Work
With headquarters in Santa Barbara, our work extends across the vast network of public lands along California’s Central Coast. We focus on the Los Padres National Forest and nearby public lands, including the Carrizo Plain National Monument, Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the Fort Hunter-Liggett Widlands, the California Coast National Monument, Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve, and lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
What Sets us Apart
ForestWatch is the only local organization working to protect the entire Los Padres National Forest – from the Big Sur coast to the Sespe wildlands – from damage caused by oil drilling, illegal off-road vehicle abuse, unmanaged livestock grazing, and uncontrolled development.
We’re local. Our headquarters are right here on the Central Coast, just ten minutes away from the forest we work to protect. We live, work, and play here every day, giving us a unique understanding of the many ways our communities value these public lands.
We’re effective. Our bottom line is simple – every action we take must result in direct, on-the-ground protection for our public lands. We focus our work where it counts. We have a proven track record of achieving meaningful protection.
We’re efficient. We operate on a lean budget with low overhead, so we can direct nearly all of our funds towards our on-the-ground efforts to protect the forest. Our staff work long hours for little pay, stretching every dollar to its limit.
We tell it like it is. Our efforts are based on the best science so that we can focus on what really matters – protecting the forest. Our scientific advisory committee ensures that our positions are supported by hard evidence.
We’re inclusive. We work with a variety of folks from all walks of life who share a common goal – protecting and restoring the forest. By forging alliances with unconventional allies like local businesses, rural communities, and other forest users, we increase our effectiveness and secure lasting protection for our public lands.
Our strategy is simple yet effective:
We conduct on-the-ground restoration projects that improve forest conditions and repair degraded areas.
We review and comment on projects proposed by public land management agencies to ensure consistency with scientific principles and environmental laws.
We monitor forest conditions and activities on public lands to reduce or eliminate impacts to forest resources.
We consult with leading scientists and experts to ensure that public land management agencies are using the best available science.
We file appeals and, if necessary, lawsuits to compel public land management agencies to comply with our nation’s longstanding environmental laws.
We collaborate with other organizations and citizens committed to forest protection, and catalyze them into action to halt forest threats and restore damaged areas.
We increase the public’s understanding of the important role that our region’s public lands play in maintaining the local economy, quality of life, and environment of our communities.Photo credits: Painted Rock, Terri Laine; Figueroa Mountain, David Coughlin