In the wake of the Thomas Fire, Venturans had many things on their mind. As we looked toward our hillside, the scars left by the fire and the impact it had on our community felt inescapable. We had a list of precious spots that we wanted to check on. While we were devastated to learn that the Ventura Botanical Gardens were directly impacted, we were comforted to see that Serra Cross was still standing. A couple of hills over, more good news as the silhouette of Two Trees stood where it always has.
As the smoke clears, we’re eager to learn more about our landmark trees and Rancho Ventura Land Trust is working to accurately assess their damage and needs. Here are responses to a few frequently asked questions. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
How are the Two Trees doing?
Two Trees are still standing. The young tree that was planted on Earth Day in April 2017 had some damage from the fires and lost some of its leaves but it will recover. The replacement tree that was planted in 1948 is still standing. The tree is not completely dead, and the stewards of the Rancho Ventura Trust will do all they can to keep the tree alive. The last original tree of the thirteen that were planted in 1898 suffered the most damage. It was completely charred from the Thomas Fire.
Can we hike up to Two Trees?
Not for a while. We need to ensure we give the land time to heal. The scheduled holiday hikes have been canceled. The hikes will be rescheduled as soon as Two Trees is ready for visitors again.
How can we help?
Rancho Ventura Trustees thank you for the outpouring of support. All 860 acres, plus the additional 752 acres that the Rancho Ventura Conservation Trust is in the process of raising funds to purchase, were impacted by the Thomas Fire. Many of the oaks, sycamores, and other vegetation and grasses were lost to the Thomas Fire. The immediate goal is to help the land heal so that the abundant wildlife can return to their habitat. The mountain lions, deer, rabbits, the birds, insects, and other critters that call these hillsides home need our help. We can do this together by restoring the land. This includes planting native vegetation, seeding grasses and planting coast live oaks, sycamores and other native trees.
Do you need volunteers?
Absolutely. We welcome the help and support of our Ventura community and across the region. To help, for more information, or to make a donation to help restore the land and habitat, please visit www.venturaconservation.com and stay tuned for updates.