To Our Ojai Community:

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 »
Photo By: Les Dublin, Ventura River Steelhead Preserve

Ventura River Steelhead Preserve

OVLC donors enjoy the Steelhead Preserve

Thanks to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Coastal Conservancy in July 2011, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy acquired an additional mile of the Ventura River, which offers the river’s best refuge for the endangered South­ern California steelhead, as well as a home for 29 other rare, threatened or endangered species. The Ven­tura River Steelhead Preserve also has historic buildings that date to the 1930s.

The Ventura River Steelhead Preserve provides 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 and Ventura River water
  • Preserves an intact cultural landscape

Protects Rare Wildlife

Ventura River Steelhead Preserve

Ventura River Steelhead Preserve, Photo by Les Dublin

The Ventura River Steelhead Preserve protects rare wildlife, including the endangered Southern California steelhead. As recently as the mid-1900s, an estimated 5,000 steelhead spawned each year in the Ventura River. Recently, steelhead runs have been reduced to less than 100. The deep cool pools on the Steelhead Preserve provide a critical refuge for the migrating steelhead when other parts of the river dry up. However, after the Thomas Fire, the deep pools were filled in by silt washed downstream. In time, we hope the proper habitat will return for the steelhead.

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 a 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 (Arundo) with native vegetation. Giant reed has almost been entirely eradicated from this one-mile stretch of the river.

Protects Cultural Resources

Steelhead Preserve house, Photo by Les Dublin

Steelhead Preserve house, Photo by Les Dublin

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.