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Conservation groups team up to buy, preserve more than two dozen acres of land along South Coast river

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Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Photo
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A new deal is going to preserve 28 acres of land along the Ventura River on the northwest side of Ventura.

Deal will protect wildlife habitat, while creating new recreational opportunities for public.

It’s an effort that’s been in the works for years.

Now, more than two dozen acres of land adjacent to the Ventura River has been purchased so it can be preserved, and turned into parkland.

"The stars kind of aligned on this one, where we had a willing landowner, and we had the funding available," said Alex Size, the Southern California Land Protection Director for the national non-profit group The Trust For Public Land.

"Those opportunities don't come up very often," said Size. He says they worked with the Ventura Land Trust, and the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to make the deal happen.

The nearly six million dollar purchase of 28 acres of land is part of a bigger vision to create a parkway along the Ventura River.

"The Trust for Public Land, with Cal Poly Pomona, and the State Coastal Conservancy back in 2008 came up with the Lower Ventura River Parkway Plan," said Size. The idea was to reconnect people with the river, while preserving the land.

The property is on the outskirts of West Ventura. It’s west of Highway 33, between the highway and the Ventura River. The land along the portion of the river was zoned for industrial use.

Size says they’ve been working on the purchase for about four years, but it all came together with some state funding to cover the nearly six million dollar purchase price, and a property owner willing to offer a good deal.

Seven acres of the 28 acres is being leased back to the property’s owner, and it will serve as a commercial storage yard for the next 20 years.

But, buying the land for conservation is just part of the equation. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, and the Trust for Historic Preservation are now focusing on restoring the natural habitat, and creating public access.

The area is important habitat for the endangered southern steelhead, as well as a type of bird called the southwest willow flycatcher.

"Looking ahead, we need to raise a lot of money to restore the site," said Tom Maloney, the Executive Director of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.

Size says it’s great to reach the milestone of the purchase, even though the work is for from over.

The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy has now been involved in protecting more than four miles of Ventura River frontage. And, the National Trust For Public Land has helped buy, and cover more than four million acres of land, including some areas on other parts of the Central and South Coasts.