When the Alisal fire swept across the Gaviota Coast last October, the 782-acre Arroyo Hondo Preserve — a canyon country filled with meadows, rocky ridges, streams, trails and historical structures — did not escape its flames.

About 90% of the preserve was left an ash-covered landscape devoid of vegetation, populated by scorched rocks, charred trees and the skeletal remains of chaparral, as the fire consumed some 17,000 acres in a week.

“The fire started in the forest over the ridge above Arroyo Hondo Preserve,” said Meredith Hendricks, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, which manages the preserve. “In the first two days it swept down to the coast, and the preserve was right in its path.

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