The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is committed to sustainable stewardship of the lands it owns in perpetuity. We balance community access and environmental protection to best serve our members and the local community. To achieve our goals we engage in invasive species removal, river/estuary cleanups, trail building and maintenance, and planting of native plants. Find more information on specific events here.
Invasive Species Removal
Volunteers removing Arundo donax
Invasive plants can be a huge problem in sensitive environments, especially rivers and wetlands. Invasive plants such as the giant reed Arundo donax can use much more water than native plants, introduce fire into areas not adapted to burning, provide cover for illegal camps and activities, and prevent the establishment of native species. With help from our strong volunteer base we actively remove invasive species, including giant reed, castor bean, fan palms, tobacco tree and many more, using only hand tools and hard work! This allows native plants to recolonize areas, providing habitat, food, shelter and many other benefits to our local wildlife.
Native Plant Restoration
Native plants such as mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) and mulefat (Baccharis salicifolia) are often used for restoration
Sometimes removing invasive species is not enough, and further intervention is needed to reestablish native plants into in area. In other cases, degraded lands no longer have the seed bank or soil to allow native plants to colonize. In these cases VHC works to actively replant and restore native plants. One such example is on our Big Rock Preserve, where the County of Ventura Tree Mitigation Fund provided the Conservancy with funding to plant hundreds of protected native trees, including California sycamore (Platanus racemosa), coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), and valley oak (Quercus lobata). As these trees grow up over time, they will enhance the habitat, increase aesthetic values, and provide shade to the Ojai-Ventura Bike Trail which runs next to our Preserve.
The Conservancy owns almost 30 acres in the Ventura River, and manages close to 100 acres total, including the beautiful Ventura River Estuary. Once known locally as the "Hobo Jungle", the Estuary is an extremely important coastal wetland containing an estimated 600 species of plants and providing habitat for thousands of shorebirds, fish, and other animals. Since receiving our Willoughby Preserve in 2012, VHC and our partners have removed 300-400 tons of trash from this sensitive natural area. We generally host volunteer cleanups and restoration events on the third Saturday of each month, and hundreds of people join us throughout the year to lend a hand.
Properly built and maintained trails allow the public to safely explore our preserves, and also allow us access to do the other necessary restoration work on the lands we steward. Thanks to a generous grant from REI, we have created a volunteer trail crew, and have purchased all the necessary tools to build and maintain trails. We hold special trail work days throughout the year on our preserves and properties we manage.