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Restoration at Work

By on February 25, 2019 in Around Our Valley, Featured, News, Newsletter

Some history of the Ojai Meadows Preserve

The OMP pond after January rains

At a quick glance, it is obvious that the Ojai Meadows Preserve is doing what it’s meant to—connecting people to the natural world. However, unless you remember the way Highway 33 used to flood during a rainstorm, you may not realize the important role the preserve plays in capturing flood waters. 

History has not always been kind to the meadows. Before the OVLC acquired the Ojai Meadows Preserve in 2000, this historic wetland had been buried under sediment and fill dirt from nearby construction. With nowhere for storm runoff to go, Highway 33 became impassible after rain events and flooding at Nordhoff High School was common.

Before- Photo in 2005

To alleviate flooding, the OVLC enlisted the help of botanists, biologists and restoration specialists for advice on how to bring the land back to its natural state. These experts designed a plan to excavate fill dirt, creating a basin for flood water to drain from the highway, Nordhoff High School and Taormina neighborhood into the preserve.

Therefore, the OVLC began an active campaign to replace non-native plants with native wetland species such as willow and mulefat around the pond and native trees, shrubs, grasses, and annual flowers in the areas surrounding the wetlands. This project continues today, as we work to improve the diversity on the preserve.

After – Photo in 2019

The next step was to restore the preserve’s native habitat—­­improving water infiltration and encouraging the return of wildlife. This was an ambitious undertaking, as the preserve was overrun with non-native weeds and a grove of non-native eucalyptus trees that had been planted in the 1950s. As a result, it was clear that the native habitat would not return on its own.

Almost two decades ago, community members and businesses came together to help the OVLC purchase this land and transform it into a gorgeous wetland environment. Because of their commitment to the environment, we now have this beautiful preserve with a successfully restored wetland near the center of town, and the highway doesn’t flood anymore!

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