When the Rangeland Becomes Solid Suburbia

ranch house

The 1923 Spanish Colonial-style ranch house built on the Kirst Ranch was designed by famous black architect Paul Williams. Surrounded by 200 acres of vineyards, it was demolished by construction of the 210 Foothill Freeway.

When Lynn Kirst, a fourth-generation Californian, drives the I-210 Foothill Freeway in Los Angeles County, she passes through solid suburbia. The landscape looks nothing like it did when her pioneer great-grandfather, Nicholas Kirst, purchased several hundred acres of the Spanish land grant known as Rancho de La Cañada at the turn of the last century. The Kirst Ranch was subdivided in the post-WorldWar II housing boom and is now encompassed by the City of La Cañada Flintridge.

Although Lynn was born in La Cañada, she was reared primarily in the community of Montecito in Santa Barbara County. A lifelong horsewoman, Lynn shared a love of equines with her late father, Philip Kirst, who was active with numerous men's riding groups throughout Southern California, such as Rancheros Visitadores. He encouraged Lynn to become a charter member of The Fillies, a women's riding group which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Lynn proudly wears her silver belt buckle for being named "Filly of the Year" in 2007.

Lynn Kirst with her horse

Lynn Kirst with her horse, Cash.

"One of the best things about horses, and belonging to the Fillies, is the opportunity to ride on private ranches. I have been lucky to become friends with many people in the ranching world, which has given me appreciation for the challenges of life on the land."

Making the connection to support the California Rangeland Trust (CRT) was natural for Lynn, a writer, photographer and businesswoman who has also had a noteworthy career as a museum fundraiser.

"I was honored to be asked to join the CRT Legacy Council when it was formed several years ago. I really believe in the mission of CRT and its Planned Giving Society, which is why I included California Rangeland Trust in my estate plans."

Lynn Kirst in firefighter gear to save family home

Defying mandatory evacuation orders when the 2017 Thomas Fire reached Montecito, Lynn donned firefighter gear and stayed behind to successfully save her family home.

As a Montecito resident who miraculously survived both the 2017 Thomas Fire and the devastating debris flow that destroyed her home just three weeks later, Lynn, a widow herself, has seen how resilient both land and people can be.

"Those of us with long family histories in California seem to have a special interest in preserving the ranching legacy of our Golden State, and making a planned gift to CRT will help achieve that goal."

Join Lynn in helping the California Rangeland Trust to preserve our Golden State's rangeland, air and water quality, wildlife habitat and local food supplies. Together, we can Protect What Matters for generations to come. Learn how you can help by contacting Shannon Foucault at (916) 444-2096 or sfoucault@rangelandtrust.org.