Ventura Hillsides Conservancy Hillsides and Wetlands

By Sheryl Hamlin

The Santa Paula Agriculture Museum hosted Mr. Derek Poultney of the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy on Friday, viagra dosage April 10, ambulance 2015.

Mr. Poultney, dosage the Conservation Manager of the Conservancy, made it clear that the Conservancys work is not just about hillsides and hiking, but includes the complex legal and social relationships between water, wildlife, government, development and citizens. Prior experience with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the United States Forest Service and the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy gave Mr. Poultney his insight and stamina into how to navigate the environmental and legal labyrinth called government.


Derek Poultney of the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy

As a way of explaining the unintended consequences of nature and development, Mr. Poultney started with a video of the 1992 Ventura County Flood. To see these videos, please click here and here. The city of Ventura had allowed a tourist RV park to be developed in a flood plain near the 101 freeway. The 101 freeway, also in the floodplain, was built too low at this point, so not only were RVs uprooted, there are scenes of vehicles being slammed by the floodwaters against the freeway. The above linked videos show a vivid real life experience of the importance of planning for low possibility events, like floods. The picture shows an RV crashing against the 101 Freeway. The Conservancy is working to create a transportation corridor in the event of a major flood.

When the RV Park was proposed originally, it was not without warning. This link from the LA Times gives some of the history. Because this property was considered marginal from a planning perspective, it was available inexpensively for low cost housing. Even though a resident of this particular RV park is allowed a stay of only 29 days, the residents will leave for one day and return, skirting the limit, according to the LA Times article, thus the vacation park became low-cost housing.

Another map was shown of developments along the 33 and The Avenue which are in questionable areas for flooding. With the drought, California is and will be prone to brush fires which followed by one strong rain could lead to more flooding.

Interestingly enough, President Obama signed an Executive Order in January 2015 changing the Federal standards for building in potentially floodable areas. While such an order applies to federal projects only, it is conceivable such legislation could influence State legislation.


The Conservancy has been buying property to restore into recreational areas where citizens can experience nature close to home. Their model is to buy property when available, restore it and make it available to the public in perpetuity. They own 8.74 acres in Willoughby Preserve and 17.26 acres in Big Rock Preserve. In the hillsides, they have recently acquired 300 acres near Foothill and Kimball (Walker/Hearne Ranch) for preservation. The map from the Conservancy web site shows their span of interest.


The City of Ventura had allowed homeless camps along the Ventura River for decades. When the Conservancy bought the property, the homeless were evicted and tons of trash removed, along with masses of arundo grass. The removed detritus included stolen bicycles, solar panels, outdoor gas lamps, hypodermic needles and barbecues from 40 campsites, some of which had washed to the ocean during the decades of use by homeless camps. 90% of the homeless relocated to the Santa Clara River, while a small percentage was amenable to rehabilitation. The before/after pictures of this area are a results of a dedicated group of volunteers with tireless management. The area is now open to the public in perpetuity. The picture shows Big Rock Preserve and Willoughby taken from the Conservancys website.


Big Rock Preserve


Willoughby Preserve









The issue of free flowing rivers was discussed. At one time there were eight streams to the ocean, according to Mr. Poultney. The Ventura County Fairgrounds is one of the developments in the flood plain. The Matilija Dam removal was discussed as a way of restoring the ecosystem; however, the specific approach and removal of decades of silt have not been finalized, along with the cost of the removal.

A question was asked about analogous projects for the Santa Clara River. This area is under the aegis of The Nature Conservancy who has a special section dedicated to the Santa Clara River. This area is much longer and more contested due to the 30,000 home Newhall Ranch planned development at the east end of the river.

Both conservancy organizations, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy, benefit from membership and donations. And, of course, they are always looking for volunteers.

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy


Sheryl Hamlin: With an MS in Industrial Engineering, Sheryl Hamlin spent years in technology with stints at Motorola, Tandem Computers and various startups. She has been on the boards of neighborhood organizations both in San Francisco and Palm Springs where planning issues were her specialty. She now resides in Santa Paula and loves the historic fabric of the city.  Ms. Hamlin’s blog Stealth Fashion  and  technology product ‘ Plug and Play Webmaster’.

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