Public Access Coordinator, Tejon Ranch Conservancy
Tejon Ranch, CA
When Scot Pipkin came to meet the SITW caravan at the gates of Tejon Ranch, my first impression was that he dressed very professionally. He wore a button down shirt, olive green outdoors pants, and new hiking boots. But as he sat in the chair circle with us, explaining the unique land conservation pioneered on the ranch, his pink, purple, and baby blue sports watch caught my eye. It seemed that there was a quirkier side to Scot Pipkin that we were not yet privy to. My theory was confirmed when he busted out some sweet dance moves while waiting in the dinner line later that evening.
Scot has only been working at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy for a couple of months, but he’s very committed to the model of private land conservation that’s been created between the Tejon Ranch Company and the non-profit Tejon Ranch Conservancy. The ranch company has the right to develop 10% of the ranch, and the conservancy manages the other 90% of the land with a board of representatives from both the environmental community and the ranch. This land will be put under easement in sections over a set time period, paid for by California state funds. This is where Scot comes in. He works as the Public Access Coordinator for the conservancy, leading guided community hikes and school groups around the ranch. Because the public is paying for the easements, the conservancy and the ranch company have agreed that there should be limited public access on what is technically still private land. Scot was a great guide in that beautiful place. He took us on a walk our first afternoon at the ranch, stayed for dinner, and then helped with a service project to take down an old barbed wire fence the next day.
By Kari Paustian