C.R.E.W. provides technical skills training in fire prevention, forestry, habitat restoration, wildscaping, and creating/maintaining our backcountry trails. Environmental work offers an outdoor classroom for life skills as well: C.R.E.W. staff learn how this physically demanding work creates a lasting positive outcome on our local natural spaces. They develop friendships and meet leaders in related fields who offer career ideas and opportunities.
As we are often the first or second formal ‘job’ for many of our young staff, C.R.E.W. embraces educational opportunities out of the field as well. Workshops in communication, conflict resolution, resume writing, critical thinking, and so much more, provide skills that empower our staff to become stronger leaders, in the workplace and in the community.
RECREATIONAL TRAIL MAINTENANCE
The C.R.E.W. began with a partnership with the US Forest Service, under which The C.R.E.W. has maintained, improved and reconstructed more than 600 miles of Forest Service trails. These trails are in several Ranger Districts including Ojai, Santa Barbara and Mt. Pinos Districts.
C.R.E.W. staff have gone on spike-outs nearly every year since 1991, with teams hiking far into the backcountry to camp out while performing trail work over multiple consecutive days. For these trips, C.R.E.W. members receive advanced training in safety, personal work ethics, campsite responsibility, job skills, cooperation, leadership and backcountry survival skills.
Each year The C.R.E.W. performs trail maintenance several private and public groups such as Thacher School, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, Ventura Land Trust, and private landowners who have made their property available for recreational use.
The C.R.E.W. does substantial year-round fire protection work. This includes creating over 40 miles of fuel break on the notorious Ojai Fuel Bed, as well as another 7 miles of above Frazier Park and Pine Mountain Club. The C.R.E.W.’s fire protection activities provide a proven career track for those wishing to pursue fire fighting positions.
The Ojai Valley Chipping & Fuel Reduction Program, in partnership with Ventura County Resource Conservation District, reduces the risk of wildfire for the high-risk Ojai Valley by removing woody debris and reducing this high-hazard fuel to wood chips (which can be reused in habitat restoration). Our backyard clearance program strives ensure defensible space for residents who are in need of additional support, including low-income seniors.
HABITAT RESTORATION PROJECTS
The C.R.E.W. takes pride in its role in habitat restoration projects, which contribute to the vitality of our wildlife and human communities. Projects include:
- Piedra Blanca Creek Steelhead Habitat Project – Working with the Department of Fish and Game, Wetland Restoration Program, US Forest Service, California Native Plant Society, and For the Sake of the Salmon, the C.R.E.W. completed siltation and erosion control on 9.5 miles of habitat, revegetated over 100,000 sq. feet and removed invasive vegetation from five acres.
- Millennium Tree Project – With the City of Ojai, the C.R.E.W. planted 250 in the city of Ojai.
- Ventura River Project – Alongside the California Native Plant Society, US Forest Service, and Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, the C.R.E.W. refurbished 14.5 miles of trail, built two river crossings, and installed signage at multiple sites.
- Sespe Aquatic Ecosystem Reconstruction Project – Working with the US Forest Service, the C.R.E.W. completed siltation and erosion control and non-native plant removal at 19.5 miles of Sespe Creek.
- North Fork Matilija Creek Project – Working with the US Forest Service, CalTrans, and Department of Fish and Game, the C.R.E.W. cleaned debris for 7 miles of Steelhead spawning ground and removed over 12,000 full-grown Spanish Broom plants.
- Ojai Valley Green Coalition volunteers and the C.R.E.W. have worked together for many years to maintain non-native plant removal in Libbey Park Creeks.
- The City of Ojai – The C.R.E.W. has also been working since 2010 as part of the city’s Libbey Bowl creek mitigation program.
- Libbey Park West Barranca Restoration Project- The C.R.E.W. has removed 20 two ton truck loads of non native plants consisting mainly of Himalayan Blackberry and Vinca. Restoration with plants native to the site has now begun with the planting of 55 four foot tall Willows and another 20 Mule Fat bushes. Removal of non native vegetation will continue year round. It has now enabled the creek in the area to increase its water velocity and flow capacity. Removal of the blackberry literally uncovered a creek which has subsequently regained its natural course and is running more freely. The willows have been planted on either side of the new stream.
- The Lower Ventura River Herbicide Free Habitat Restoration Project- The C.R.E.W. will collaborate with property owner Ventura Land Trust to implement the part of the Lower Ventura River Parkway Plan that calls for non-native vegetation eradication, habitat restoration. It will restore a greenbelt and trail network that would reconnect the low-income Westside community to public parks and open space along the lower six miles of the Ventura River.