Helping close out 2014 on a high note, the Conservancy learned in December that it was awarded a grant from the County of Ventura’s Tree Mitigation Fund to plant protected trees at our Big Rock Preserve. We plan to restore over 450 sycamore, valley oak, and coast live oak trees to areas that are currently bare ground or contain invasive species.
Planting these beautiful native trees will benefit wildlife, improve air and water quality, and encourage public visitation and use of the area. The tree planting will also enhance our current invasive species removal project by restoring native species into and around the affected areas. Included in the $87,080 grant is transportation funding to bring local schoolchildren to the preserve to help plant trees and to learn about the benefits of restoration.
The trees will be planted in areas previously cleared of invasive Arundo donax on our Big Rock Preserve, as well as on neighboring City of Ventura property bordering the Ojai-Ventura Bike Trail. We are very excited about the benefits of planting along the Bike Trail because as large native canopy trees, these species will provide shade, improve air quality, and help block road noise from nearby Highway 33. As they mature and grow these trees will also sequester tons of atmospheric carbon, offsetting the green house gases emitted by vehicles using Highway 33 as well as those generated by heavy equipment and machinery used at nearby petroleum extraction sites.
VHC believes strongly in getting the public involved in our conservation efforts. Through direct hands-on involvement in conservation we hope to reconnect the people of Ventura to the neglected yet vital natural resource that is the Ventura River. The additional funding for transportation will allow us to reach out to children at low-income schools who otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in outdoor projects such as this one. We will also need lots of volunteer help during this project, so keep your eyes out for upcoming opportunities!