VENTURA, Calif. (AP) -- A pristine swath of California coast that includes redwood groves, agricultural fields and picturesque ocean bluffs west of State Route 1 has been sheltered from developers in a deal approved by the California Coastal Commission.
The commission's unanimous approval in Ventura on Thursday protects the sprawling 7-mile northern Santa Cruz County stretch known as Coast Dairies.
Formed in 1901 by the merger of properties held by two Swiss families, the Coast Dairies property is the third-largest privately-owned parcel between San Francisco and the Mexico border.
The 6,800-acre former Spanish land grant surrounds Davenport with redwood forests, agricultural fields, coastal bluffs and several watersheds.
The deal, in the works for more than a decade, was described as going to the heart of the state's Coastal Act, which late coastal commission executive director Peter Douglas helped write 40 years ago
It was the commission's first meeting since the April 1 death of the 69-year-old Douglas.
"This is a major culmination of lots of good faith and hard work for everyone," commissioner Steve Blank said. "We all win here. The people of California win here."
The Trust for Public Land and other conservation groups acquired the property in 1998.
Coupled with the recent preservation of 8,500-acres of adjacent land formerly owned by cement maker Cemex, the deal guarantees the North Coast stretch will be free of development, the Santa Cruz Sentinel (http://bit.ly/IN93sK) said.
The deal allows the transfer of 5,750 acres to the federal Bureau of Land Management, as well as the conservation of three other parcels for agricultural uses.
Commissioner Mark Stone, who is a Santa Cruz County supervisor, says the property is a North Coast gem.
"Every bit of this project and what's before us today fits the Coastal Act," he said.
The property will eventually be opened to the public.
The Bureau of Land Management still must submit a management plan to the California Coastal Commission, which has already prohibited off-road vehicle use and hydraulic fracturing for gas or oil or other resource development.
Information from: Santa Cruz Sentinel, http://www.santacruzsentinel.com
Copyright 2012 The AP