I had a chance to talk to the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Stewardship Director that's putting things back together after the Thomas Fire.
1. Hi Brendan, tell us about yourself. Are you from the Area? How long have you been mountain biking/doing trailwork?
I’m actually from the greater Philadelphia area and I relocated out here for the Stewardship Director position at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. I’d previously worked in California back in 2007 out in the desert doing restoration projects before then working on the Pacific Crest Trail in the southern Sierra from 2008-2011, and so I jumped at the opportunity to return to southern California to work in the outdoors again. As for biking, while I don’t mountain bike myself, I do love to bike tour and in fact the reason I was looking for a new job before coming to the OVLC was because I had left my previous job of fiver years working for the Appalachian Mountain Club to do a year long, round-the-world bicycle tour through Asia, Australia, and Africa – bike travel is the only way to see the world!
2. What is the OVLC and what are your duties as a stewardship director?
The OVLC is a nonprofit, non-governmental, land protection organization supported by private donations. We work to protect the views, trails, water, and wildlife of the Ojai Valley for current and future generations to enjoy. In the Ojai Valley, the OVLC manages roughly 2,300 acres of open space and 27 miles of mountain biking, equestrian, and hiking trails. My duties as Stewardship Director are to manage that land and those trails. I do this by patrolling our preserves regularly and recruiting and leading volunteers in projects that range from planting native plants to building new trail to replacing trail signs burned in the 2017 Thomas Fire, and so much more.
3. How are these trails a positive use of the ojai valley?
The trails that the OVLC manages are a positive use to Ojai Valley because they provide easily accessible recreation for mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians to beautiful natural areas in the our community’s backyard. The OVLC trails really are local neighborhood trails that allow users to ride or hike for a few minutes, a couple hours, or more considering that these trails are the gateway to the Los Padres National Forest as well.
4. How can we get involved?
Volunteer or donate! We are a donor driven organization, supported and run through private donations and when this community gives to the OVLC, we are able to give back in so many ways. Then too there are countless ways to volunteer, from building new trails that are mountain bike friendly – like we’re doing right now in 2019! – to becoming a California Naturalist and leading environmental education hikes, to helping us in the office with our mailing parties. No matter what type of activity level you feel comfortable with, we probably have a volunteer opportunity for you, and we could absolutely use the help.