For the past several years, a collabarative effort led by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy has been slowly restoring a historic wetland in the heart of the Ojai Valley. Many of you have seen and perhaps participated in the activities on the Ojai Meadows Preserve. Earthmoving & construction were completed in April 2008 and major planting efforts will continue for several years. Ecological benefits include increased wildlife habitat, improved water & habitat quality, and increased aesthetic beauty. This little publicized effort is making a real difference in our watershed.
Restoration efforts have so far:
- Alleviated HWY 33 flooding by transforming Maricopa Drain from a straight, undersized man-made ditch into “Maricopa Creek,” a wider/deeper natural meandering stream with gently-sloped streambanks conducive to riparian vegetation establishment. Widening and meandering the stream required the removal of up to 90 eucalyptus trees.
- Re-created freshwater marsh/wetland/riparian habitat to recapture likely historic conditions
- Created 2 vernal pools
- Created an additional meandering (Taormina) streamcourse, lined with 50 sycamores, 50 black cottonwoods, and native understory.
- Allowed braided streams to naturally re-occur (from Nordhoff campus storm flow)
- Significantly decreased the non-native plant cover and increased the percent-cover of native riparian, wetland, oak woodland, savannah grassland, and sage scrub habitats, the bulk of which are now protected within a newly-erected wooden post & rail fence. Approximately one-third of the preserve is undergoing varying levels of restoration.
- The overall “Ojai Meadows Preserve Habitat Restoration & Flood Control Plan,” prepared by Condor Environmental Planning Services, Inc., is being managed and implemented by OVLC staff, Coastal (ecological) Restoration Consultants, public and private schools, and volunteers of all ages.
- State Department of Water Resources
- Nordhoff High School
- State Water Board
- Army Corps of Engineers Mitigation Program
- Oak Grove School “Once Upon a Wetland”
- Taormina Community Tree Fund
- Southern California Wetland Recovery Project
- Kaddis Oak Tree Fund
Future restoration plans include more of all-the-above on more acreage, focusing more on the County portion of the preserve. Contact OVLC for more information: 805-649-6852