Why learn about and care for oaks

It’s easy to love oaks! They are magnificent trees, full of wonders. San Luis Obispo County, especially the North County from Santa Margarita to Paso Robles, is where you’ll find some of California’s most beautiful and rich oak woodlands. 

San Luis Obispo County’s oak woodlands are more than just a pretty view. Healthy oak ecosystems help clean the air and water, capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, cycle nutrients, develop soils, prevent soil erosion, and provide habitats for more than 300 vertebrate species and more than 600 invertebrate species. The rich diversity of animals that depend on oaks for food and shelter calls us to be good stewards of our oak habitats. 

Whether you are a landowner or someone who lives among the oaks, you have a stake in the conservation and stewardship of oak habitats. Below, you’ll find resources to help you learn about oaks, land and wildlife. 

 To me, stewardship means protecting something that you love.   

                               — Vineyard Elementary School 4th grade Oak Ambassador Emory


Where to find oak stewardship resources

Oak woodland stewardship requires not only a love for the oak woodlands but also knowledge and understanding of the ecosystem’s workings. University of California Oaks is a great place to begin learning about our oak woodlands and how we can work together to sustain their benefits for people and wildlife.  You’ll find many fascinating and helpful resources to help you become a good steward.  California Oaks, a project of the California Wildlife Foundation, is another excellent resource for those interested in oak conservation and regeneration.

The photo here shows biologist and ranch manager Dana Tryde caring for a new generation of oaks at the Cayuse Ranch, near Pozo. Dana and her family hope these young trees will someday be as grand as the ancient oaks that have provided homes for wildlife and ecosystem services at the ranch for hundreds of years. 


Acorns need our help to grow into mighty oaks

To address problems with oak regeneration, Learning Among the Oaks (LATO) volunteers are involved in planting and caring for oaks at each of the LATO field sites/nature trails.

In 2019, we worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, volunteers and partners (Templeton Heritage Tree Foundation, ONX Wines) to complete an oak understory restoration project at the Vineyard Elementary School Nature Trail (photo on the right). Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast have helped with similar projects at the Santa Margarita Ranch LATO Trail.


What The Land Conservancy is doing to conserve oak woodlands

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County works cooperatively with local landowners to conserve and care for oak woodlands. This is very important because more than 80% of California’s oak woodlands occur on privately owned land, mostly utilized for ranching.

The video shown here provides a look at the Fitzhugh Family’s Hill Ranch, located along the Highway 46 West corridor. You will see some of the area’s most beautiful oak woodlands and get a glimpse of ranch life among the oaks. Through the use of a conservation easement, the Hill Ranch and its oak woodlands are permanently protected.