Preservation of the Ventura hillsides in the spotlight at a current event

Elected officials and the Ventura Land Trust celebrated on Wednesday at Heights Mariano Rancho, a new preserve that stretches from the Botanical Gardens to the iconic Two Trees in the hills of Ventura.

In 2020, the land trust purchased the property for approximately $4 million with plans to preserve miles of public trails and wildlife habitat on the land in perpetuity. The small nonprofit took out a loan and quietly sought donations and grants to help pay it back.

Earlier this year, the state earmarked $7.2 million, officials say the money will allow the organization to repay the loan and fund efforts to open the 1,645 acres to the public.

Catch up:Land trust buys Mariano Rancho, preserving 1,645 acres of Ventura hillsides

The funding was led by Assemblyman Steve Bennett, D-Ventura, who joined State Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara and other officials at the site Wednesday.

Bennett called the view “incomparable”, one that allows people to see the city from its western side to the eastern end, the ocean and the Channel Islands beyond. He said he hopes the reserve will be able to bond the community.

The land trust, which plans to open the reserve to the public in two to three years, plans to hold community meetings starting next month to share details and get feedback on the plans.

More information about the reserve is available at venturalandtrust.org.