The Brazil Ranch is home
to the Big Sur Environmental Institute and is one of
the most historic ranches along the pristine and famous
Big Sur coast. Prized for its ecological values, prime
pasturelands and extraordinary beauty, Brazil Ranch
is owned by the federal government as part of Los Padres
National Forest and managed under the care of the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service.
The Brazil Ranch is named after Tony & Margaret
Brazil, the family that worked to initially establish
the land as a farm, ranch, as well as a dairy operation
for nearly a century. In 1977 Allen Funt, the creator
of the popular television show “Candid Camera” purchased
the land from the Brazil’s and personally built
and/or assisted his on-site caretaker, John Moon of
Rancho Colera, with the development of the structures
and infrastructure currently existing at the ranch
today. Upon purchase and development, Mr. Funt maintained
the property operations as a working cattle and horse
breeding ranch until his death in 1999. In the
year 2000 Woodside Partners (a team of developers)
purchased the ranch from Mr. Funt’s estate.
With the assistance of the Trust of Public Land and
other partners, Congress acquired Brazil Ranch (located
just south of the historic Bixby Bridge) in early 2002.
The following excerpt is from Congressman Sam Farr’s
website. The excerpt portrays his passion and interest
in the Big Sur Coast and the Brazil Ranch property.
“Perhaps one of the most dramatic spots in the Big Sur Coast, Brazil
Ranch contains nesting Golden Eagles in the broken redwoods which are said
to have been the inspiration for poet Robenson Jeffer’s famous ode ‘Beaks
Quotes from Congressman Farr:
“To conclude, I believe President Theodore Roosevelt best explained the
measure of a nation that respects its environment when he said, ‘The
nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must
turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”
“This is what much of my time in Congress
has been about, and it is what I will continue to
“I am hopeful that Congress will strengthen
its commitment to arts and humanities, reflecting the
belief that arts and humanities do more than just offer
us entertainment and distraction from turmoil in our
lives, they provide insight and perspective, they offer
comfort and hope. Arts and humanities give us ways
to understand and find meaning in what is happening
in our nation, and what has happened centuries ago.
Arts and humanities give us ways to share that meaning
with our children.” [Published in the Coast Weekly,
Threatened by developments, the Trust of Public Land
purchased the property and it was ultimately acquired
into the public domain through an Act of Congress.
At the same time the USDA Forest Service was given
charge of the 1,226-acre historic ranch during the
fall of 2002 and assumed fiscal control of the ranch
from the Trust for Public Land during the fall of 2003.
While collaborating with regional communities and others,
the Forest Service drafted the following preliminary
goals for the Brazil Ranch:
- Protect the view shed.
- Strengthen local cultures and communities.
- Promote conservation of natural and cultural resources,
especially through the arts and humanities.
- Provide seminars and policy forums that foster
responsible leadership to address challenges of sustainable
land management and cultural integrity.
- Demonstrate conservation strategies through research,
training, restoration and education.
- Provide a unique, small-scale conference/retreat/events
- Manage programs and resources on a self-sustaining
- Provide recreational opportunities.
The Forest Service conducted extensive research and
community outreach in an effort to develop a vision
and mission for the property. Visits to the ranch by
key constituencies and potential partners resulted
in productive exchanges of ideas and feedback. A visioning
process resulted in the following five potential scenarios:
- A working ranch.
- A multiple use institute.
- A progressive policy and academic institute.
- An arts and humanities center.
After careful consideration, the Forest Service developed
an amalgamation of these scenarios that emphasized
the creation of an event and meeting facility for the
purpose of exploring the intersect between natural
resources management with the arts and humanities.
At the time the “working name” for this
vision became the EarthArts Institute at Brazil Ranch.
In order to more fully realize the next steps towards
meeting the goals of their vision, the Forest Service
created a not-for-profit organization called the Brazil
Ranch Environmental Center. Once realized, the Center
fine-tuned its mission to become a world-class conferencing
institute and changed its name to the Big Sur Environmental
BSEI will use the Brazil Ranch primarily for education
programs on issues related to environmental conservation,
stewardship and sustainability. BSEI will fulfill its
educational mission by: attracting, managing, or convening
influential dialogues addressing policy and technology
related to local, regional, national and international
stewardship of the environment by inviting world leaders
in policy formulation, research, advocacy and the practice
of natural and cultural resources conservation and
restoration to convene in a world-class retreat and
conference center. Some have called the Brazil Ranch
the “Camp David” for the environment.