Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ventura River Parkway Land Donation

Ventura Hillsides Conservancy Accepts Ventura River Land Donation

Press Release: Ventura , CA (February 17, 2009). The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is the recipient of a second donation of land to add to its conservation holdings. The gift came from the Gene Wave Waldo Trust. The two contiguous parcels comprising the gift measure just under one acre, and are located along the Ventura River just west of the Ventura River Trail. The property is south of Foster Park .

The children of Gene Waldo, Wave Lee Stonerock, Nipomo; Jennifer Tidwell Kennedy, Casitas Springs; Robert Waldo of Medford , Oregon ; and Sue Brax of Lancaster donated the scenic riverside property in honor of their mother. The family chose to give the acreage to the local land trust to ensure that it would remain as open space in perpetuity. “We wanted to be certain that nothing would be built there” said Stonerock. Kennedy added that she was pleased to give the lush riparian area to the Conservancy because “now the land has a purpose.” Pursuant to wishes of the donors, the grant deed carries a restriction limiting use to conservation objectives.

“This generous donation is significant in a number of ways” says Executive Director Barbara Harison . “It is the first land conservation conveyance recorded since the Ventura River Parkway project was announced by Trust for Public Land and the State Coastal Conservancy a few years ago.” The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy serves as a key facilitator of the Parkway project, and is the only entity willing to hold land for conservation purposes in the lower Ventura River valley. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy holds several properties along the river north of Foster Park . “These parcels are in a relatively undisturbed riparian state” says Jamie King, Conservancy Trustee and professional biologist. “Only minor restoration work is needed. As riparian habitat supportive of river-dependent species, it is quite high quality.”

The two parcels are remnants of larger lots that once fronted Ventura Avenue , and were created from the old Rancho Santa Ana subdivision. As children, the sisters recall coming up from the Los Angeles area on weekends to visit their Grandparents, Charles and Wave Hoffman. Charlie was known for many years as the sage of Foster Park . He owned an antique store on one of the parcels. Later, their mother owned The Green Door antique shop on the adjacent parcel. The children have fond memories of the playing in the river and the watching the train that ran behind their grandfather’s property. The train track is now removed and replaced with the Ventura River Trail. When the state built the Ojai 33 Freeway in the 1960s, much of the Waldo property and adjacent properties were taken through eminent domain, leaving a string of remnant parcels along the riverside west of the Caltrans right of way. The two remnant parcels remained in the family’s ownership since that time.

The Conservancy hopes the Waldo Trust donation will inspire other landowners along the river to participate in the vision for the parkway. “Often what is considered remnant land in difficult floodplain setting actually has high conservation value and positive benefits as conserved land for habitat protection and public access to the river” says King.

About the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy. The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is dedicated to permanently preserving the hillsides, canyons and open space that contribute to the unique character and natural environment of the Ventura region. VHC works with landowners to help identify a property’s conservation value. Landowners can then work with their advisors to evaluate conservation scenarios and potential incentives that fit the property and the family’s needs. Donations to the Conservancy are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Further information about the Conservancy log is available on the web site at, or by calling 805 643-8044.

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