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By on July 25, 2022 in Featured, News, Newsletter

Holy cow! There are cattle on the Venture River Preserve! No – they aren’t supposed to be there; rather they should be next door on Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) lands. 

If you look at the OVLC map of the Ventura River Preserve (west of the Ventura River and on the north side of the preserve), you’ll see that Rice Canyon Trail actually travels off of OVLC land and onto LPNF land. If you’ve been out on this trail, you might recall the 2 green vehicle/pedestrian gates that you have to pass through. When you are between these two gates, you are not only on LPNF land, you are in the midst of a cattle grazing allotment. For many years now, there has been a small grazing operation in this area. From springtime through the summer, you can often see a herd of cattle in this area. Even when the cattle aren’t around, you can still see signs of them, from the cow pies on the trail to the “Cows Only” water trough. 

Cattle finding shade in Rice Canyon at the Ventura River Preserve on a hot summer’s day

Should you encounter the cows, don’t be alarmed. They are fairly docile animals and will likely walk away from you as you pass by on the trail. Still, it’s best not to approach them directly and we encourage you to give them a comfortable amount of space. As for that “Cows Only” trough of water, that water has to be trucked in as the cattle have no other reliable source of water available to them back there, so please make sure your dogs and horses aren’t drinking that water. Of course, we’ll just have to hope the deer know how to read and can police themselves. 

Unfortunately, the cattle sometimes wander out of their assigned area, especially when one of the green gates is left open. While they often venture down into El Nido Meadow, they sometimes wander as far down the canyons as the river bottom. Recently, they were caught red-hoofed lounging and browsing in our sensitive oak woodland restoration area. The cattle will wander where they will, so we can’t blame them. However, you can help us by keeping all gates closed! In fact, go ahead and close any gates you see open, even if you didn’t open the gate! If all of our trail users are careful to close the cattle gates in and around Rice Canyon, then we can keep up a happy relationship with our cattle grazing and National Forest neighbors. Thank you for this help! 

Brendan Taylor
Director of Field Programs

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