May 31, 2024
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Ventura Land Trust gets state funding to complete newest hillside preservation purchase


The Mariano Rancho property features views of downtown Ventura and the Channel Islands. (courtesy photo)

The state of California has awarded $7.2 million to the Ventura Land Trust to complete the acquisition and preservation of the 1,645-acre Mariano Rancho property in the Ventura hillsides, the Land Trust announced July 8.

The state funding will help ecological restoration aimed at supporting recovery of endangered coastal sage scrub plants and safeguard a county-designated wildlife corridor connecting the Ventura River watershed to the Santa Clara River watershed. A portion of the state funding will also support the capital campaign for Harmon Canyon, another open space area owned by the Ventura Land Trust, according to the nonprofit conservation group’s news release.

The scenic Mariano Rancho property overlooks downtown and midtown Ventura. The eastern edge contains one of the famous Two Trees in Ventura and the western corner is adjacent to Ventura’s Grant Park.

In a news release announcing the funding, the Ventura Land Trust said it will engage in a two- to three-year planning process before opening Mariano Rancho to the public. The land trust plans to commission a conceptual trail plan for the property and a trailhead parking enclosure will be constructed. The Land Trust has made similar improvements to its Harmon Canyon property.

“The preservation and restoration of this land will be a tremendous gift to the wildlife that depend on these habitats,” Ventura Land Trust Executive Director Melissa Baffa said in the news release. “It is thrilling to make this kind of multi-generational impact on a region, and Ventura Land Trust is grateful for the partnership of the state of California and our local legislators in these efforts.”

The Ventura Land Trust said it will hold a series of community meetings on it planning for the preserve, including public access, conservation and land restoration, and recreation and trails. The Land Trust now owns nearly 4,000 acres of open space in the Ventura area.