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By on July 12, 2021 in News, Newsletter
A valley oak in the vicinity of the Ojai Saddles Trails. Image courtesy of Nathan Wickstrum

Between the year and a half of pandemic-constrained life and California’s extreme drought, one could be excused for suffering from a grim outlook. However, we at OVLC see reasons to have optimism beyond the slowly abating (at least locally) pandemic. 

Conservationists are fond of quotes from our iconic forerunners such as Henry David Thoreau’s “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Well, as we contend with climate change and drought, it turns out that ole’ Hank was more prescient than any diehard transcendentalist may have thought! 

California’s extraordinary budget surplus provides the state with an unprecedented opportunity to preserve and restore the natural systems that provide resilience to the changing climate. Known as “green infrastructure” there are others who now refer to “natural climate solutions.” As our general consciousness shifts from a need to conquer nature to understanding its value and functions, the acceptance of nature-based solutions is becoming more mainstream. Furthermore, it is increasingly clear that protecting and restoring land to preserve and enhance natural climate solutions provides an outstanding return on investment. 

Long-time Ojai residents have firsthand experience with the benefits of preservation and restoration. Before OVLC protected and restored the Ojai Meadows Preserve, Maricopa Highway would routinely flood during significant rain storms. The stormwater retention and flood control objectives of OVLC’s restoration have paid significant dividends over the decades and with the predicted dramatic increase in extreme weather from climate change, this investment will continue to provide resilience. In addition to the practicality of flood control, the restoration of the preserve has allowed native plants and animals to flourish, increasing our local biodiversity. During Covid, many OVLC supporters have told us that their walks on the preserve provided emotional resilience. The preservation and restoration of the Ojai Meadows Preserve has provided a natural climate solution that benefits our community in myriad ways. 

As the Ojai Valley and the rest of the West contends with drought and climate change, protecting and restoring habitats are the most cost-effective investments in infrastructure that we can make. OVLC is optimistic that significant state investments will flow from the surplus for these natural climate solutions and we are eager to help! 

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