Over the last few months, Ventura Land Trust has been welcoming thousands of visitors each month to Ventura's first large-scale nature preserve at the Harmon Canyon Preserve, 2,123-acre canyon of sprawling hillsides, coastal sage scrub and abundant wildlife.
Purchased in 2020 it already has eight miles of trails, including a dirt road and since then at least another two miles of new trails. Trail crews are working daily to clear new routes. These trails wind through magnificent oak groves, offer spectacular views of the coast and mountains and are linked to the main access road.
This Spring, Ventura Land Trust will offer Spanish-language guided hikes and a self-guided wildflower walk as soon as the wildflowers are blooming.
On Saturday, April 24, the Trust celebrates Earth Day at the Preserve by planting a new oak grove near the trailhead, sponsored by SoCal Gas. The public is invited to tag @venturalandtrust in social media posts of their outdoor Earth Day adventures.
The Trust has a robust nature education program through Ventura Wild, which served 400 children (ages 2-15) in 2020 with programs that rekindle a sense of belonging and wonder through local nature-based explorations. A Spanish-language session, offered for the first-time last year, had 20 participants. The demand is strong, as the Spring programs are already full.
The Trust’s Once Upon a Watershed education program has produced a series of videos to take the place of its school-based curriculum, since Covid limited the number of students in the classroom and available for field trips. It serves youth from kindergarten through sixth grade. One of the videos, The Story of our River, focuses on the critically endangered indicator species, Southern steelhead trout, and the effects of the Matilija dam on beach erosion and spawning access. Have a look here: https://tinyurl.com/VtaRiverStory
Ventura Land Trust has two properties on the Ventura River, Willoughby Preserve, opposite the Main Street parking lot, and Big Rock Preserve, next to the Ventura-Ojai bike path near Foster Park.
On February 24, 2021, the Trust celebrated its 18th birthday and the incredible community that is a part of everything the land trust does: the donors, members, volunteers, docents, and partners/ They have been part of every clean-up and restoration event, every tree planted, and every trail blazed.
Since 2003, the non-profit Trust has conserved nearly 4,000 acres of land in and around Ventura, protecting habitats for endangered plants and animals, establishing a new greenway along the Ventura-Ojai Bike Path, and rekindling a connection to nature for thousands of children. Preserves are open daily from dawn to dusk and are free to the public.
Ventura Land Trust’s mission is supported by its members, who enjoy exclusive guided preserve experiences, early bird access to events, and the Outlook newsletter. To become a member and learn more about the Trust, including volunteer and education opportunities, go to: www.VenturaLandTrust.org
Harmon Canyon hiker, on one of the miles of brand new trails open to the public. (Photo courtesy Ventura Land Trust)