Land Conservancy seeks funds to close Farmont
By Bret Bradigan
The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy secured
$3.1 million from the California State Coastal Conservancy Jan.
23, advancing them to 84 percent of their $4 million goal for
purchasing 1,416 acres on Ojai's west side.
Now comes the hard part. As a condition of that grant from bond
acts 12 and 40, the Coastal Commission wants to see the Ojai
Valley and surrounding areas raise enough money to cover the
rest of the purchase, as well as an endowment for operating the
preserve on what was formerly known as Farmont Ranch.
That amounts to $630,000, and it has to be raised by June 5.
That date is when escrow is set to close with the former owners,
Intell Management, which had drawn up plans for an 18-hole golf
course and residential development. The Land Conservancy also
needs to arrange a 150-acre conservation easement on the property.
"Intell had made it clear that is as much time as they can
give us," said Jim Engel, the conservancy's executive director.
The OVLC will be making a fund-raising appeal to its supporters,
as well as making presentations for smaller groups. Naming rights
will be offered for a variety of features on the property, which
features several canyons, a long stretch of Ventura River, year-round
streams and existing trails amid its oak-studded woodlands. Prices
range from $500 for a bronze historical marker to $300,000 to
affix a name to an unnamed canyon. The $630,000 needed is close
to what they raised for the building of Cluff Vista Park, yet
the OVLC has much less time in which to raise it. "The challenge
we have is the timing," Engel said, which makes it difficult
to seek grant funds. "We'll certainly be looking at private
foundations, and we've received a number of gifts from outside
The Coastal Conservancy's senior project manager, Peter Brand,
was quoted in the OVLC's newsletter: "OVLC definitely has
a great combination of staff and volunteers, but we still need
to see if they have enough funds to implement the project."
The OVLC has raised nearly $230,000 since the deal was first
struck this past fall, but "this campaign has an urgency
to it," Engel said.
© 2003 The Ojai Valley News
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