Thomas Fire Recovery Project

The Thomas Fire roared through Ventura County on December 4, 2018, forever changing lives and landscape in its wake. Please know that our thoughts continue to be with everyone who suffered loss as a result of the fire. The Ventura Land Trust will stand beside you as we all journey together through the recovery process. 


The road to recovery is a long one but we know that over time, our community and our lands will heal. In the coming months and years, we will coordinate recovery activities on our preserves and will look to you - our community - for help. Restoration takes time, money and manpower. We encourage you to donate in the way that makes sense for you. Also, keep an eye on our Events Page. In 2018, we will host a series of environmental restoration and information events. Working together, we will make Ventura's open spaces beautiful once more.

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Click here to contribute to the VLT Thomas Fire Recovery Project

Every donation, no matter what size, makes a difference!




A bird's eye view of the Thomas Fire damage at Big Rock Preserve

January 18, 2018

More than 300 people joined us tonight at the Poinsettia Pavilion to hear Dr. Sean Anderson, Chair of the CSUCI Environmental Science Dept., speak about the Thomas Fire's impacts on wilderness and wildlife. Dr. Anderson's talk was the first in VLT's 2018 Environmental Speaker Series. Dr. Anderson shared a great deal of interesting data about why the fire started, why it burned so large and hot, how it has affected creatures both large and small and how he predicts the landscape and wildlife will eventually recover. According to his data, climate change and land management policies set the stage for the largest wildfire in California's history. Unlike other areas in the state, Ventura County has been in a continuous drought for the last 8 - 9 years. The drought, combined with the winds, past suppression of fires in Ventura and Santa Barbara and a shift in the jet stream all contributed to the "perfect fire storm." According to Anderson, continued dry conditions will mean that plants will take longer to recover which, in turn, degrades the habitat of small animals. Slowly the animals will return but it will take time and patience. Dr. Anderson was so popular that we have invited him back next January to give a "one year report card" on Thomas Fire Recovery! Click on the link to watch Dr. Anderson's entire lecture.

January 15, 2018

What a difference one day makes. More than 140 volunteers showed up to help at our very first Big Rock Restoration event held on the 2018 Martin Luther King Holiday. Thanks to a generous donation of more than 200 plants and trees by Bamboo Pipeline, we were able to replant many of the hardest hit areas along the Ojai-Ventura bike path. Now, where there was soot and ash, are young oak trees, coyote bushes, mule fat and other native plants. In addition to planting, hard-working volunteers cleared metal trash that emerged after the flames burned the area, spread mulch to help prevent the growth of non-native invasive plants and began clearing the trails that lead to the Ventura River. We  are so grateful to everyone who helped. Not only does the outpouring of community support warm our hearts, it is essential to the survival of the multitude of wild animals that call Big Rock home. With so much of the surrounding landscape scorched, we saw evidence (so many critter footprints in the mud) of the many kinds of animals that rely on open space and access to natural water sources for their survival. We recently purchased a new traveling water tank and will regularly water and nurture the new plants and trees until we "bring Big Rock back" to its former beautiful state!

The MLK Restoration Event was front page news in the Ventura County Star. Click here to read all about it! 

December 28, 2017

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of the dedicated hard working firefighters who are still out there protecting us! Nearly 3 weeks after the Thomas Fire roared through the Big Rock Preserve, old historic railroad tracks on the property were still smoldering. Yesterday, Engine 23 from the Ventura County Fire Department treated this hot spot using a special foam and finally put the fire out here for good.  

December 20, 2017

More than two full weeks after the fire raced across Ventura County, VLT staff finally felt it was safe enough to tour the Big Rock Preserve and assess the damage. Sadly, they found the burned areas to be much more extensive than originally thought. Many of the 1000+ young trees that had been planted on the property over the past two years are burned and other mature trees incurred significant damage also. Some fallen trees are blocking trails and making a thorough assessment difficult. In other areas, the ground is still smoldering. Ventura Land Trust is currently securing the help of skilled arborists and restoration biologists to inspect the property and advise us on how best to mitigate the damage. Until further notice, BIG ROCK PRESERVE IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC! 

December 12, 2017

It's been one week and today, we are finally able to get back to work in our ash-covered office. The good news is that our computers are again up and running, our air purifier is on order and we are receiving many messages of support from our supporters in the community. Around noon, under very smokey skies, staff donned air filtration masks and headed to Big Rock to survey the damage. Upon arrival, we were moved to tears. We found burned trees, damaged trails and smoldering shrubs. It was decided that it wasn't yet safe to investigate further, so we dried our eyes and put off further surveying until another day. We know that the land will heal over time but it was very hard to find so much devastation on our beloved Big Rock Preserve.


 Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Ventura Land Trust. 

We need you support now more than ever!

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