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Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »

FROM THE DIRECTOR / JUNE 2022

By on July 7, 2022 in Featured, News, Newsletter

There is a long-standing undercurrent of tension between long-time residents, newcomers, and visitors in Ojai. As a newcomer myself (my wife and I moved to Ojai over two years ago), I have perceived the “oh, you’re a newcomer” perspective. The exurban migration that has occurred over the last several years in Ojai, and other beautiful rural places, has noticeably exacerbated these tensions. As is often the case, these issues often flare up on social media much more forcefully than they ever would in person. 

Meanwhile, the effects of climate change in the valley are increasingly noticeable. Citrus and avocado farmers are feeling the pressures of heat and drought stress on their crops. The City of Ventura’s water adjudication has heightened the already fraught situation with water. Driving past Lake Casitas serves as a ready reminder of how dire things are looking. Virtually anyone who spends time in Ojai sees rain as a cause for celebration. 

Sorting through all of these issues can be as hard as making a left hand turn onto Ojai Avenue on a holiday weekend! The stresses from the changing climate, rising real estate prices, and challenges arising from the prolonged drought can engender a sort of tribalism that pits the old guard against the newcomers and residents against visitors. However, this reaction fails to recognize a fundamental truth about the Ojai Valley and the folks who choose to live or visit here. 

A great egret (Ardea alba) foraging for food in a vernal pool at the Ojai Meadows Preserve

This is that the rural character, open views, and widespread access to nature is at the core of what attracts people to Ojai. The land and views provide a stunning backdrop to the lovely and still compact city area. Indeed, it was the deeply held conviction by OVLC’s founders to preserve the rural character of the valley that led to the organization’s founding in 1987. They recognized what is still true today—that a thoughtful and engaged effort is needed to preserve the special character of the valley. 

Investing in those values also preserves the natural capital that sustains all life in the valley. With the seemingly inexorable advance of climate change, land protection serves as a sure-fire investment in our future. Saving watershed lands helps to maintain in-stream flows, and restoring abandoned orchards into oak woodlands makes for a shadier and more livable valley. Eradicating invasive giant reed from the watershed lessens the risk of extreme wildland fire and improves the water budget that is so important to all of us. 

We’re not the only ones who see land conservation as a safe investment in our future. The federal and state governments have introduced 30X30 campaigns to advance the conserved land base to 30% by 2030. Even the United Nations has a Sustainable Development Goal to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems. We invite you to join OVLC’s much more local efforts to promote a more sustainable and resilient Ojai that everybody will continue to love and enjoy for generations to come. 

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