Cristal's Blog


January 1, 2024

Back to Articles

A silent sentinel stands watch in the heart of Santa Barbara, where nature's wonders unfold in the embrace of the Los Padres National Forest. ForestWatch, the unsung hero of our region, is committed to the welfare of the animals that call this biologically diverse haven their home. Let's delve into the remarkable efforts of ForestWatch, shedding light on the incredible work they do for the animal kingdom.

A Bald Eagle takes flight over water.
Andy Morffew from Itchen Abbas, Hampshire, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Los Padres National Forest Needs Our Help

The Los Padres National Forest, situated at the core of a global biodiversity hotspot, faces significant challenges. It hosts the largest number of endangered, threatened, and sensitive species among California's national forests. The southern California steelhead, California condor, Smith’s blue butterfly, San Joaquin kit fox, bald eagle (which has just gone off the endanger species list as of January 1, 2024), California jewel flower, southwestern arroyo toad, and southern sea otter are among the 26 species who live there that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

4 deer in a meadow in the Los Padres National Forest.
Photo credit: Bryant Baker/Los Padres ForestWatch

Protector and Partner of the Forest

Enter ForestWatch, a dedicated organization working tirelessly to enhance biological diversity in the Los Padres National Forest and surrounding public lands. Collaboration is a cornerstone of their approach. The organization liaises with local communities, governmental agencies, and other conservation groups to foster a collective commitment to environmental stewardship. By building partnerships and fostering a sense of shared responsibility, the group amplifies its impact and creates a united front against the myriad challenges facing the Los Padres National Forest.

Education and outreach form another vital component of ForestWatch's initiatives. By raising awareness about the unique biodiversity of the region and the importance of conservation, the organization strives to inspire a sense of environmental consciousness within the community. This not only generates support for its conservation efforts but also cultivates a culture of sustainable living that extends beyond the borders of the forest.

A woodpecker with an acorn in its mouth sits in atree.
Photo credit: Bryant Baker/Los Padres ForestWatch

Fighting for Survival in the Extinction Crisis

At the forefront of this local nonprofit’s mission is the protection of endangered, threatened, and sensitive species that inhabit the Los Padres National Forest. In the face of an alarming reality where one-third of the nation's plant and animal species are perilously near extinction, ForestWatch emerges as a beacon of hope and resilience. The organization recognizes that habitat loss, driven by various factors such as pollution and overharvesting, is the primary driver of this crisis. Amidst these challenges, this important organization stands tall to protect and preserve the delicate balance of ecosystems within the Los Padres National Forest.

By focusing on large-scale impacts, the organization ensures its conservation efforts have far-reaching effects, addressing the root causes of habitat degradation and loss. The organization collaborates with experts, scientists, and local communities to implement strategic initiatives to preserve these ecosystems' integrity. This includes advocating for responsible land management practices, monitoring human activities that may threaten sensitive habitats, and actively engaging in initiatives that restore and enhance the natural balance.

And the organization’s commitment goes beyond being reactive. In the face of adversity, the group’s work is a testament to collective action's power in pursuing a more harmonious coexistence between humanity and the vibrant ecosystems we enjoy.

A California Condor with its wings spread, sailing against a blue sky.
Brian Sims, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Conserving Condors: A Special Focus

The majestic California condor, a symbol of both grandeur and fragility, occupies a central role in the nonprofit’s tireless wildlife conservation endeavors. As a species teetering on the brink of extinction, the critically endangered California condor faces a precarious existence, with only 56 individuals known to inhabit the vast expanse of the Los Padres National Forest. In the face of such dire circumstances, ForestWatch emerges as a stalwart guardian, committed to the survival and prosperity of these magnificent creatures.

The California condor's plight underscores the urgency of the group’s mission. With such a minuscule population, each individual condor becomes a vital thread in the delicate fabric of biodiversity. The organization recognizes that the survival of this iconic bird is not just a matter of ecological significance but also a testament to the resilience of nature in the face of human-induced challenges.

Chaparral of the forest with fog drifting down a valley in the foothills.
Photo credit: Bryant Baker/Los Padres ForestWatch

Beyond Wildlife: ForestWatch's Holistic Conservation Approach

While ForestWatch is a stalwart defender of Santa Barbara's wildlife, their commitment extends far beyond the animal kingdom to include plants. This nonprofit organization employs a holistic conservation approach, addressing diverse environmental challenges that threaten the integrity of the Los Padres National Forest and surrounding public lands.

The group's multifaceted initiatives include conducting a comprehensive inventory of forest-wide extraction and development activities. This diligent work aims to protect sensitive species and preserve the delicate ecosystems that support a myriad of flora and fauna. By monitoring and scrutinizing new proposals, ForestWatch ensures that potential activities align with environmental laws and adhere to the best available science, advocating for the sustainable coexistence of nature and human activities.

A hawk on a tree branch against a blue sky.
Photo credit: Bryant Baker/Los Padres ForestWatch

Our Role in the Symphony of Nature

As members of ForestWatch tirelessly work towards its mission, it's important to remember that we, as residents of Santa Barbara, share the responsibility of preserving our natural heritage. The not for profit beckons us to stand alongside them, advocating for the protection of these remarkable animals and plants. Through collaborative spirit, the organization endeavors to leave a lasting legacy of preserved biodiversity in the Los Padres National Forest and surrounding public lands for generations to come.

If you’re considering moving to or within any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, please call me at (805) 886-9378 or at In the meantime, join me in commending this organization and do what we can to support ForestWatch. That way, we’ll ensure that Santa Barbara remains a haven not just for us but for every creature that calls this fascinating place home.

More resources:

Back to Articles

Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch