Earth Day 2021: New Oak Grove at Harmon Canyon Preserve

The undertaking involved the planting of many trees by volunteers. Photo by Richard Lieberman

by Mira Reverente

To commemorate Earth Day, Ventura Land Trust (VLT) launched its first reforestation project at Harmon Canyon Preserve. The undertaking involved the planting of 50 live oak trees and 150 native plants, around 40 volunteers and a longtime partnership with SoCalGas.

After welcome remarks by Dan Poultney, executive director at VLT and Matt LaVere, Ventura County supervisor, the volunteers broke off into small groups and tackled the task of planting near the trailhead of Ventura’s first large-scale nature preserve.

Dan Hulst, VLT preserve director, led the reforestation efforts and showed the volunteers how to use and spread mulch, how deep to dig a hole and how to adequately water the plants. “These plants are in shock from being transported so the more water, the better,” he said, after pointing out the various native plants including lemonade berry, purple sage, coast sunflower, California sage brush and Yerba Buena.

The Martinez family was one of the families who volunteered. “We like doing this type of activity as a family,” said Elizabeth Martinez, director of public relations at  Meruelo Enterprises, a local construction company and minority business enterprise. Martinez brought her husband, son and daughter-in-law along.

Since the preserve has been open to the public last June, its 10 miles of trails featuring hills, canyons and spectacular views have  attracted outdoor enthusiasts including runners, hikers, cyclists as well as families who just want to explore or get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. “It was definitely much-needed during the pandemic,” said Derek Poutney, executive director of VLT.  “There is so much open space to enjoy amongst these 2,100 acres of nature.”

According to Maria Ventura, public affairs manager at SoCalGas, “VLT is really a good steward of the environment and we are proud to partner with them again.”

Harmon Canyon Preserve is open to the public. There is free parking available at the trailhead off of McVittie Place. Docents are available and on-site most days to answer questions.

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