Ventura River Steelhead Preserve
Please note: This nature preserve is NOT YET open to the public. If you would like a tour of the preserve please call OVLC at 805 649 6852 x 6 to be added to a waiting list. In the future this preserve will include an education and conservation center and offer a place to enjoy some of the most wild parts of the Ventura River.
Thanks to the California Coastal Conservancy in July 2011, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy acquired an additional mile of the Ventura River which offers perhaps the river’s best refuge for the endangered Southern California Steelhead, as well as a home for 29 other rare, threatened or endangered species. This new Ventura River Steelhead Preserve also has buildings which are slated for use as an education and conservation center, hosting scientists, school children, and the public. Although this preserve provides outstanding opportunities for observing, studying and enjoying nature, a significant amount of work needs to be completed to prepare it for this public use. This work includes a change of use permit by Ventura County.
The Ventura River Steelhead Preserve provides and will provide the following for the communities of Ventura and the Ojai Valley:
- Brings the community one step closer to the goal of protecting the entire Ventura River.
- Protects rare wildlife.
- Enriches children’s and adults’ understanding of the watershed and its animals and plants.
- Protects Ventura River water.
- Preserves an intact cultural landscape.
As of November 2012, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is in the process of raising an additional $35,000.00 to match a generous grant by the California Coastal Conservancy. The grant and remaining money to be raised in the community provides funding for trails, signage, interpretive exhibits, fencing, a maintenance fund, and necessary modifications to landscaping and facilities to accommodate expanded public use. This goal can be reached through a combination of gifts, short term pledges, and, for the maintenance fund portion of the campaign, planned gifts. If a supporter is interested, there are opportunities to name a trail or other parts of the preserve in memory or honor of a loved one.
This Ventura River Steelhead Preserve is the only place in the Ventura River basin and perhaps in Ventura County that offers at the same location indoor and outdoor opportunities to learn about a functioning southern California river. OVLC’s goal is to give students the opportunity to get “knee deep” in the study of the ecological facets of the Ventura River in the morning, and then come inside during the hot afternoon and continue their education in a classroom setting. The general public will have an opportunity for passive and sensitive recreation on the site like birding, or attending educational events at the Conservation Center.
Protects Rare Wildlife
The Ventura River Steelhead Preserve protects rare wildlife, including the endangered southern California steelhead. As recently as the mid 1900’s, an estimated 5,000 steelhead spawned each year in the Ventura River. Recently steelhead runs have been reduced to less than 100. There is hope and a plan for recovery. The deep cool pools on the Steelhead Preserve provide a critical refuge for the migrating steelhead when other parts of the river dry up.
Helps Save the River
With the acquisition of the one-mile long Ventura River Steelhead Preserve, roughly 6 miles of the 16 mile long Ventura River are now permanently protected. Along these 6 miles, and as envisioned for the remaining 10 miles, the OVLC and its partners are creating a Ventura River Parkway with the primary goal of connecting people with their healthy, functioning river via trails and riverside parks. Our vision includes the removal of Matilija Dam, the acquisition of lands in the floodplain of the river, and replacing exotic species such as Giant Reed (aka Arundo) with native vegetation.
Protects Cultural Resources
The Ventura River Steelhead Preserve protects the core of the historic Hollingsworth Ranch. The Hollingsworth family cared for this land for decades, and one of the family’s more well-known members, former Ventura County District Attorney James Hollingsworth, built the property’s historic rock house in 1935. Our goal is to preserve the ranch compound as a Conservation Center where students, scientists and the community can observe and learn about the outstanding natural and cultural resources on the preserve.