What happened to the Music Festival?
In 2012 we celebrated 10 years of Ventura Hillsides Music Festivals. During that time we accomplished many of our goals for land conservation. We have received several donations of land within the Ventura River watershed and have been very focused on restoring and opening these preserves to the public. We are also making great progress toward a land acquisition in the hillsides. This is an exciting opportunity and essential for our ultimate success. As this is a high priority for Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, we have taken the time to create, establish and reaffirm our strategies for accomplishing these goals. For this reason, the Ventura Hillsides Music Festival is on hiatus. Be assured we will keep you posted as our strategy develops and plans for the next big event unfolds. And thank you for ten great years!
Why are you working in the river if you are the Hillsides Conservancy?
The Ventura River is one of the main sources of drinking water for the city of Ventura. Before the widening of SR-33 and the construction of the levee it was also a hub of outdoor recreational activities such as swimming and fishing for steelhead trout. Its restoration and stewardship is a high priority for agencies that fund our work. All of our donated land lies within the Ventura River and its watershed giving us the opportunity to protect and preserve this vital, yet neglected natural resource for our community and for future generations. We have partnered with the State Coastal Conservancy, the Surfrider Foundation, Friends of the Ventura River and many other groups to implement the Ventura River Parkway plan. This effort aims to reconnect our community to its river and ensure its stewardship for future generations. Read more here.
What are you doing about the homeless people living in the river bottom?
The Ventura River has been heavily impacted by the proliferation of illegal camps and the trash and pollution they generate. No trash or septic services are available in these areas and as a consequence vast quantities of refuse enter our river and end up on our beaches and in our ocean. In some areas vital habitat for native and migrating species has been degraded beyond the capacity to support wildlife. To address this issue the Conservancy has partnered with the City of Ventura and various local social service organizations to offer “a hand up, instead of a hand-out” to individuals who are ready to make a change for the better. We do our best to make it possible for people interested in those services to make the transition from outdoor living to case management and recovery programs. Project Understanding, the Salvation Army and the Turning Point Foundation are organizations who provide services to this population and their help has been instrumental in our efforts to reclaim and reconnect to our water source.
Does the Conservancy have a plan to acquire the hillsides?
The hillsides and open space surrounding Ventura are in the hands of many different owners. Some of the parcels are currently up for sale. In the land trust world, three things are required for a successful acquisition. First, we must have a good-relationship with a willing land-owner who is interested in preserving a legacy. Secondly, both parties must agree upon a fair-market value appraisal and purchase price. And lastly, we need to raise the funds to meet the agreed upon purchase price, most likely through a multi-year fundraising process or Capital Campaign. The good news is that we have good relations with the landowners and a fair market value for the land that we can agree on. The Conservancy has also commissioned a feasibility study which lays out a plan for our Capital Campaign. Our current Annual Campaign is a major step in that direction and its success will be essential to our future fundraising endeavors.
Where will the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy obtain the money to purchase land?
We will be launching a long term fundraising campaign to gather the capital necessary to achieve our goals. Our money will be donated from citizens and government agencies through:
- Enlisting a broad membership base
- Sponsoring fundraising events
- Soliciting direct monetary donations
- Receiving endowments and gifts
- Pursuing grants from foundations and government agencies
- Partnering with other organizations to obtain grant monies in conjunction with a project of mutual interest
What will the Conservancy do with the land?
Our land stewardship strategy will be developed to balance public recreation, preservation of scenic views and enhancement of ecosystem values. Trails for hiking, biking, or horse riding may be built depending on the area, and all potential land uses will be overseen by the experts on our stewardship committee.
What can I do besides give money?
If you are interested in helping the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy by donating your time and expertise we have a robust volunteer program. If you like to get outdoors you can attend one of our monthly habitat restoration events, which generally occur every third Saturday of the month from 9AM-Noon. More information can be found on our events page. We also have several committees in which you could participate depending on your interest and skill including our film festival committee. Other committees include fundraising, communications, land, stewardship and governance.
How are you different than Ventura Citizens for Hillsides Preservation (VCHP)?
VCHP and the Conservancy are two separate nonprofit corporations with their own boards. There is no overlap in board membership. VCHP is a 501(c)(4) political, non-tax deductible non-profit run entirely by volunteers. VCHP has no sign-up fees or dues. The Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) tax deductible non-profit land trust. The conservancy has membership dues and paid professional staff to accomplish its mission to acquire, manage and protect open space lands for public access.
-Our River Restoration Program has removed over 400 tons of trash and ten acres of non-native vegetation from the Ventura River floodplain with the help of over 1000 volunteers
-We were awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the State EEM Program to purchase hillside property for access and use by the community of Ventura. This project is still in the planning stages, but we are hoping to finalize a deal within the next 18 months
-We received a $280,000 pre-acquisition planning grant from the State Coastal Conservancy to study the Conservancy’s interest area and prepare for land stewardship
-We have permanently protected over 25 acres of sensitive open space in the Ventura River
-We’ve provided over 75 educational field trips and presentations to local schools, youth organizations and environmental groups through our Watershed Education Program
-Over eleven years of successful fundraising via steady membership, donations, grants and community events