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By on December 19, 2022 in News, Newsletter

Climate change is fueling landscape-scale shifts in our wildlands— the breadth and scale of human impacts across the globe have fundamentally altered plant communities, damaged ecosystems, and fragmented habitats. Reversing these trends requires proactive efforts at all scales, including in the Ojai Valley. 

While OVLC has done extensive work restoring native habitats across its preserves and in riparian areas, we realize that the benefits are limited if we cannot enhance habitat on private lands to build connectivity. It is this understanding that has driven OVLC to pursue its recent initiative to Rewild Ojai. Rewild Ojai is OVLC’s new program to increase the quantity and diversity of native plants grown in our nursery to sell to the community, initiate a seed conservation program (all plants grown in OVLC’s nursery come from seeds and cuttings collected sustainably from the Ojai Valley to protect and propagate local genotypes), and empower all landowners across the mosaic of land use types to take action to Rewild Ojai. 

Native Plant Specialist, Sophie McLean attends to plants at the Ojai Meadows Preserve Native Plant Nursery


While climate change is a global issue, climate resilience requires a local strategy; and restoring ecosystem functions of native habitats will support the system’s ability to rebound from extreme climate events. Native plants are central to creating climate resilience. They help to restore soil function, compete against invasive species, save water, and provide habitat and resources for biodiversity. 

Rewilding your yard is not just about restoring habitat; it is also about creating connectivity—reconnecting nature to the community. In joining the effort to plant as many native plants as we can in our yards, you are also contributing to the watershed-scale efforts to conserve native seeds, increase access to native plants, and reconnect fragmented habitats. By Rewilding your yard you will not only contribute to climate resilience, but also become a champion of community resilience. 

Sophie McLean and her brother Wyatt smile for a photo-op during an interview with Patagonia


As part of Rewild Ojai, OVLC has increased our dedication to our Native Plant Nursery creating two new positions; Native Plant Specialist and Nursery Assistant. 

If you’ve been involved with OVLC over the past year, you’ve probably interacted with our new Native Plant Specialist, Sophie McLean. Sophie has been working with volunteers, sharing her knowledge about plant identification, planting oak circles with students at the Ojai Meadows Preserve, selling plants to community members at our plant sales, and helping at events like Mountainfilm on Tour. Her beautiful prose about manzanita and ceanothus have appeared in previous newsletters. If you don’t know her, know this—Sophie brings passion, dedication, and experience to her new role as Native Plant Specialist. 

Wyatt McLean, Sophie’s brother, joins the OVLC as our Nursery Assistant. A long-time outdoor enthusiast, his interest in restoration was sparked when living on his boat amidst the Channel Islands off the coast of California. After this adventure he decided to change career paths to pursue his passion for native ecosystems. He now splits his time working both for Channel Islands Restoration and the OVLC. 

With these new roles, OVLC is expanding native seed conservation, diversifying plants grown in our nursery, and increasing our leadership role in native plant propagation. When you join us in our effort to Rewild Ojai, together we will secure a resilient future for our valley. 

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