Support Swanton Pacific Ranch Recovery

What Swanton Pacific Ranch and Railroad Means to Us

October 23, 2020

Please click here to or below watch a video and hear more about what Swanton Pacific Ranch means to those who work and study there and their hopes for the future.  

A Message from Staff on Swanton Pacific Ranch

October 02, 2020

It’s hard to believe the CZU Lightning Fire Complex hit Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch just over a month ago. We still find ourselves shocked at the losses – the homes especially, but also our teaching spaces, our favorite trails, and tools and equipment that we took for granted. Yet our team, like the land we steward, is resilient and we are making fast progress toward recovery. Perennial grasses have already resprouted with luxuriant six-inch blades, shrubs and trees are quickly growing shoots from the base of their charred trunks.


Before the fire, daily ranch life was already on a different rhythm because of COVID-19. Field trips were limited, events canceled, and we were missing the smiling faces of students. Yet we learned how to stay connected from afar. Professors transitioned to including the ranch’s forests, creeks, and rangelands in classes virtually. Now, they need new visuals and stories: more work, more opportunity! Forestry classes need photos of charred redwood stands with ashy understories and we will learn together from our emerging salvage forestry plans led by Nadia Hamey, our long-term forester-advisor. Our rangeland management classes can “huddle” around the screen with us as we create new fence lines and think about reintroduction of evacuated livestock (and how to use ruminants to reduce resprouting brush).


Meanwhile, our staff are slowly returning to the ranch as power and internet are restored. Associate Director Mark Swisher (Animal Science, ‘03), who joined us last year, is supervising our teams to inventory losses, create temporary staff housing, and plan for the next steps of engagement in teaching and research. We are very thankful for the outpouring of support from our Swanton Pacific Ranch and Cal Poly communities.


Grey Hayes, Education and Research Coordinator

Cortney Newby (Agricultural Science, ‘03), Administrative Support

An Update on Swanton Pacific Railroad

September 23, 2020

Click here to read about the future of Cal Poly's historic Swanton Pacific Railroad.


Thank you so much for your support.

Another Update on the Swanton Pacific Ranch

September 09, 2020

Read more here:


Thank you for your support!

History of Swanton Pacific Ranch

September 03, 2020
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