- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

The Hearst Corp. has dropped plans for a resort on Hearst Ranch in order to work with environmental groups to preserve the 82,000-acre central California property.
The Hearst Corp. originally proposed to build a resort complex on Hearst Ranch consisting of three hotels, a convention center, a blufftop golf course, a dude ranch, restaurants and shops.
The Hearst Ranch, located in San Luis Obispo County, already features 18 miles of coastline property and Hearst Castle, the legendary mansion built by media tycoon William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. Hollywood and the political elite such as Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill and Calvin Coolidge made frequent visits to the castle. Today, Hearst Castle is open for public tours and consists of the mansion, guest houses, and a visitors center with a museum and gift shops.
Strong opposition from the local community and environmental groups arose when plans for the ranch's development were released in 1998. Shirley Bianchi, a member of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, said the county wanted "100 percent" conservation on the Hearst Ranch.
Stephen T. Hearst, vice president and general manager of the corporation's land and livestock division, told Associated Press that "the community so resented it, the whole project, that it made sense for us to visit the whole conservation solution."
"I have to give Steve Hearst a lot of credit," Ms. Bianchi said. "He sat down with one group after another and not only listened, but made an effort to understand."
The Hearst Corp. announced Monday that it was unable to reach an agreement for a conservation solution on the ranch with environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund after 14 months of negotiations. But the corporation said it would continue negotiations with the American Land Conservancy.
But the Nature Conservancy said it was still hopeful that a conservation solution could be reached between American Land Conservancy and the corporation.
"We are still optimistic and hope there is a conservation solution that can still be found and benefit California," said Sydney Kapchan, director of the Marketing Resource Center for the Nature Conservancy.
A joint statement issued by the Hearst Corp., Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund said that all parties had agreed that the previous negotiations would remain confidential, and that they would not comment on any details.
The Hearst Corp. and the American Land Conservancy said that the goals of their negotiations were to guarantee there would be no golf course or resort development at San Simeon point, as well as no hotel built at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center and no equestrian-center hotel erected at Pico Creek.

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