California is steeped in history and natural beauty, and there is almost no better reminder than the rolling hills of Pacheco Pass. A California staple, the road and park of the same name are under the jurisdiction of the Fatjo Corporation, a nonprofit devoted to preserving the land and the people who maintain it.

Managing to maintain its devoted corps of board members for quite some time, the Fatjo Corporation has recently celebrated one member, Mike Larsen, for his nearly 30 years of service.

Originally granted to California by Paula Fatjo, a relative of Francisco Pacheco, the land that is now Pacheco Park was used by the late heiress as a nature reserve and park for future generations.

Having raised and cultivated the land and animals that depended on it for generations, Fatjo saw the potential in land preservation and donated the property to the state while entrusting the assets to be overseen by the Fatjo Corporation.

Existing under its jurisdiction, Fatjo positioned her land within its board of supervisors, who have maintained the park for decades. The current Fatjo board does not take the responsibility of managing this land lightly—it takes steps to ensure that Fatjo’s vision is realized to the fullest potential every year.

The acting president, Bill Soares, has personally seen much development on the land, from landscape-altering projects, such as the implementation of wind turbines, to the smaller-scale duties of protecting the local community of grazing cattle.

However, each new project is always incorporated for the good of the land and its many residents.

“The corporation has to make sure there is a park to maintain,” Soares states. “It’s our job to protect this park.”

In addition to protecting the land, the current staff of Pacheco Park is working on various ways to allow visitors to experience the splendor of California’s natural world. Board representatives are working toward establishing cabins and other camping designations at a specific portion of the park.

The Fatjo Corporation is laser-focused on preserving and sharing state land and often collaborates on the best plan for new projects.

“Everyone involved with the park works very well together,” Soares said. “We seldom get ‘no’ for an answer on new development ideas.”

The camaraderie of the board makes awards such as Mike Larsen’s so important.

Though it may not bring as much awareness or funding to Pacheco Park as wind turbines or cattle grazing, rewarding members who have done real work for their community is just as important as preserving the beauty of our state’s natural landscape.