31 sites · Lodging, RVs, Tents267 acres · New Cuyama, Santa Barbara
1948- On January 1, 1948 a wildcatter named George Hadley, who had been oil prospecting in the valley for 10 years, made the first oil strike in the Cuyama Valley. Richfield Oil Company soon moved in and extracted nearly 300 million barrels of oil in just a few short years. To accommodate an exploding workforce in the early 1950s, the company built the town of New Cuyama, its infrastructure, public buildings, the Cuyama airstrip (L88) and all the industrial structures that are now home to Blue Sky. Richfield Oil Company, later merging with Atlantic Oil Company forming the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company (ARCO), created high-paying jobs, a safe and prosperous community, and developed schools, churches, and recreational areas for the employee-residents.1973- With dwindling production in the area and new discoveries in Alaska, Atlantic-Richfield Oil Company put the town of New Cuyama and its associated infrastructure up for sale. Word of an entire town for sale made its way to entrepreneur, Russell O’Quinn of the Foundation for Airborne Relief (FAR) and Mildred Dotson, a wealthy widow from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two worked together to acquire the townsite and adjacent land. O’Quinn, an aviator, inventor, and test pilot, aspired to use the New Cuyama airstrip and facilities as a base for humanitarian relief and a non-profit trade school. Though not fully realized, FAR’s primary vision included utilizing converted military aircraft to airlift food and medical supplies to developing countries and global disaster areas. Dotson had loftier goals. Her plans included an 18-hole fly-in golf course, expansion of the Buckhorn Restaurant and Motel, and a 40- to 50-acre lake for amphibious landing and water sports. 1986- Another visionary, Harry Kislevitz, inventor of the popular design tool Colorforms® and founder of Future City/Villages International, sought to develop the site as a “City of Friendship,” an all-electric village of 5,000 earthen homes. The dwellings were to be designed by Nader Khalili, an Iranian-born architect who specialized in earthen structures, worked with NASA on prototypes for lunar homes and received an award from the United Nations for his work towards the development of low cost, sustainable structures for human shelter in impoverished and disaster prone environments. One 628-sq-ft Khalili prototype remains on the property today ("the Cantina"). Khalili went on to form the California Institute for Earth Art and Architecture, Cal-Earth, in Hesperia, CA.1993- Recognizing the transformative potential of clean, solar power and the attractiveness of a rural destination, entrepreneur Mike Nolan worked to develop the Solar Skypark and Big Sky Guest Ranch with Santa Barbara Architect, Barry Berkus. The Sky Park included plans for sixty-five fly-in residences on one-acre lots powered completely from clean, solar energy. The Big Sky Guest Ranch was intended to function as a clubhouse for Skypark residents complete with an equestrian center, a small subsistence farm, pool and plenty of enriching recreational activities. 2012- At the end of 2011, the Zannon Family Foundation made a long-term investment in acquiring the New Cuyama Airport property with the vision of rehabilitating the site to be a low-cost resource for programs and organizations working to advance sustainable living practices and technologies. Plans began soon after towards developing a framework and organization to develop the space and coordinate with prospective programs and institutions. In 2014 Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center ("Blue Sky Center") received 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, endeavoring to reclaim this property for the public good. Today, Blue Sky Center provides unduplicated services and technical assistance to support small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as the local food system, with core work focused on community research and advocacy led by Cuyamans. Learn more on our website and consider supporting our community work with your donation or by hosting your next special event here!