Thanks to a large donation from the Wendy P. McCaw Foundation, the Conception Coast Project will now be able to move forward with its Regional Conservation Guide.

A recent grant of $35,000 will assist in the development, production and dispersal of the conservation guide aimed at identifying and mapping fragile ecological landscapes that CCP believes should be retained and protected. The regional guide will include areas within Santa Barbara County and parts of San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties.

“With this funding, CCP will make the guide more complete and thorough in its analysis, leading to better decisions when looking at natural resource protection,” James Studarus, CCP’s operations manager, said. “Our region has a booming population. The guide will create a framework for what we need to protect.”

Funding for the project will be used to collect and analyze data for the conservation guide. The guide, projected to be completed by February 2004, will then be distributed to private landowners, nonprofit organizations concerned with land preservation, land trusts and county government and city offices. CCP hopes the guides will help these groups to prioritize important areas for protection and make more informed decisions concerning land conservation.

CCP is a nonprofit organization working to restore and protect the natural and historical ecological environments of this region. Through long-term planning, scientific research, observation and community involvement, CCP aims to preserve these environmentally important areas while also working to meet human needs.

Its projects focus on the restoration of habitats and animal species indigenous to the region while containing and controlling the introduction of exotic species. CCP works to maintain and expand native populations and promote natural evolutionary processes while working to accommodate human land use.

The Wendy P. McCaw Foundation has a history of assisting environmental organizations and has worked with CCP before. Last year the foundation funded the CCP’s Steelhead Assessment Report, a study that evaluated and ranked steelhead habitats in streams on the South Coast in order to identify barriers to their migration upstream where they spawn. Studarus said the success of this project encouraged the Wendy P. McCaw Foundation to continue its donations to CCP.

“Support from the Wendy P. McCaw Foundation strengthens our ability to produce a scientifically sound product that our community can follow in order to protect our community’s quality of life,” Studarus said.

Other organizations will also contribute to the development of the Regional Conservation Guide. These include the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Patagonia, the Fund for Santa Barbara and the Lawson Valentine Foundation.