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 »

We are your local land trust, and we want to hear from you!

Trailhead hosting in April

Brendan Taylor, OVLC Stewardship Director, is in the process of creating a 5-year plan for the stewardship of the preserves. We recently sat down with him to learn more about this plan, and why feedback from the community is so important.

Q: Why are you embarking on a 5-year plan for the preserves?

A: A 5-year plan is a blueprint for the management of the preserves. It sets up our funding priorities and determines where we will focus our limited financial resources and staff time.

Q: Why is it important to hear from OVLC members?

A: As a community-based organization, our land stewardship priorities are guided by what our community finds important. Your input helps us prioritize our goals.

Q: How can members share their input with you?

A: We want to hear from you! You may recently have seen our trailhead hosts on the preserves. OVLC staff and volunteers have been counting preserve users and asking trail users to complete short surveys. If you see us, we want to talk with you! Please feel free to share with us what we are doing well, and what you’d like to see more (or less) of.

In the middle of a leg-burning run and don’t want to stop? Not a problem. Please complete our online survey. It will only take a couple of minutes, and your answers will help guide our 5-year plan: ovlc.org/survey

Q: What can our members do to help?

A: Sign up to volunteer! We are always looking for more people to help host at trailheads. This is a fun way to get involved with the OVLC and meet other preserve users.

We also would not be able to maintain such a high standard on our preserves if not for the hundreds of volunteers who have put in thousands of hours helping on trail and restoration projects. Not only can you help build and maintain the trails that you love, you’ll also find that we have an amazing community of volunteers! Many of our volunteers come back time and again, and have developed specialized trail building skills. In the future, when we launch our Adopt-a-Trail program, we will be counting on these highly skilled volunteers to maintain portions of the trail.

You can also help by encouraging your friends—including the furry ones—to stay on the trail! Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time fixing trails that are made worse by improper use. All the time that we have to spend closing “social trails,” and maintaining switchbacks that are eroding because of “short cuts,” is time not spent stewarding our preserves and building new trails—not to mention these “trails” destroy native vegetation.

Recent photo of the Allan Jacobs Trail

Q: How do you decide where to prioritize trail maintenance?

A: For the past 9 months, volunteers have focused on building the new Allan Jacobs Trail. We prioritized this project for a few reasons. We know how important trails are to the community (this was a key takeaway from the public forums we held last year), and we wanted to open up a new loop trail to replace a trail that we had to close after the fire. This trail is also special because it has been built by the community to memorialize Allan Jacobs, a man who dedicated his life to protecting Ojai’s open spaces with the OVLC. Almost every week, volunteers have been in the field working on this trail. There is momentum from the community, and we are also taking advantage of the minimal vegetation cover post-fire. It is inspiring to see what a motivated community can accomplish.

We are currently taking a break from building this new trail to focus on our existing trails. While we are thankful for all the rain we received this past winter, we need to brush the trails [clear trails of the growing vegetation]. In the upcoming weeks, you will see us out on the preserves clearing the trails. We will start clearing the Fox/Luci’s loop on the Valley View Preserve and address the switchback cutting and drainages on Luci’s Trail to prevent further erosion. From there, we will diligently make our way through the other preserves.

Donate today to help get the bridge built and keep the trails in shape so you can get out and play!

Q: When is the Wills-Rice Canyon loop going to open again?

A: We get this question a lot, and I can assure you that it is one of our top priorities. It is one of my favorite trails too—not just because it is a beautiful loop, but also because I am proud of the projects that volunteers have completed on this trail. Together, we have rerouted eroded portions of the trail, built culverts, and installed lots of check steps. But back to your question…We are hopeful that the bridge will be completed in October or November of this year. There are a few reasons that this bridge has taken so long to rebuild. Since this bridge crosses a Casitas canal, we have been working closely with them to ensure that the new bridge meets federal standards.

Additionally, we applied for a FEMA grant to help cover the costs of this bridge. We are happy to report that although the OVLC has to front 100% of the costs for this new bridge, a portion of these costs will be reimbursed by FEMA. Unfortunately, FEMA disaster response was delayed because of other fires such as the Woolsey and Paradise fires. But, by paying for the bridge up front, instead of waiting for FEMA funds, we are speeding up the process by which the bridge gets built!

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