Winter Weather Leads to Harmon Canyon Preserve Closures
Winter winds and rainy conditions often lead to the closure of Harmon Canyon Preserve. What guides VLT's decision to close and re-open the preserve? Visitor safety, habitat conservation, and trail condition.
Rain In general, Harmon Canyon Preserve is closed one day for every 1/4" of rain recorded in the Harmon Canyon Rain gauge.
Wet roads and trails are mucky, slippery, and unsafe for visitors on foot or cycling. Foot and bike traffic on wet trails also unintentionally creates ruts and mud berms that channel water down the trail instead of across it, allowing the water to wash away soil and erode the trail surface.
With the conservation of Harmon Canyon Preserve, Ventura Land Trust has committed to the protection of the preserve's ecosystem for its plants, animals, and visitors. That includes the trails and soil. Trails are built with long-term sustainability in mind, and good trail design helps move water off the trail surface quickly. After rain moves on, trails need several days to dry out, and maintenance work may be needed to address erosion or even sinkholes on the preserve.
Wind and Red Flag Warnings
Harmon Canyon Preserve is over 2,000 acres of rugged front-country that sees hundreds of visitors every day. Plant species like mustard and thistle are incredibly dry in late fall and early winter. These plants can ignite quickly, carry fire quickly in a wildfire, and make Harmon Canyon Preserve a tinderbox.
In the event that a visitor is injured while on the preserve during a closure, rescue may involve a helicopter flying in, possibly in dangerous conditions, to find the injured person. The helicopter may call for a fire truck to travel up the fire road to pick up the injured person and bring them back to the trailhead, where an ambulance waits to transport the person to the hospital. During a Red Flag Warning, those emergency resources may be needed in other areas of the county. Closing the preserve helps ensure that are available to respond.