Camarillo parks district approves study to expand trails and open space in Camarillo

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The Pleasant Valley Recreation & Park District approved a study that would  bring a new system of bike paths, hiking trails and open space that extends from  Camarillo to the Santa Monica Mountains.

Source of this article: The Ventura County Star, January 3, 2013

Board members unanimously decided to adopt the Open Space, Trails and  Greenway Planning Study prepared by Rincon Consultants Inc. at their meeting  Wednesday night.

The study identified nearly 10,000 acres of open space — mostly foothill  slopes of the western Santa Monica Mountains — that overlap areas in the Santa  Monica Conservancy. The area borders Santa Rosa and Potrero roads in Camarillo,  the Conejo Valley and CSU Channel Islands.

Park district Superintendent Daryl Wager said the decision gives the district  “a seat at the table” and an opportunity to continue to collaborate with the  conservancy.

“The study will become a working planning document for the district as we  move forward into this area,” Wager said.

The idea for a study stemmed from talks more than a year ago between the  district and conservancy.

“This is our toe in the water for open space,” Wager said. “Santa Monica  Conservancy is probably one of the largest gatekeepers for funding of open space  in the area. … They have that ability, both federal and state, to allocate  grants. We want to work with them as much as possible and keep that relationship  very solid.”

Before the vote, park district board member Mike Mishler said he was  concerned about adopting the study because he wanted to make sure the district  could change the trail systems if challenges arose in the future. Wager told  board members that updating the study’s trailheads would be possible but would  require going through the Ventura County Assessor’s Office and possibly hiring  another consultant.

The project cost $28,040, which was funded through a $32,000 grant by the  conservancy, officials said.

On Wednesday, Wager said the district would continue to work with the  conservancy and use the remaining money to expand on some key areas of the green  space plan.

“The intent is to spend the rest of those funds getting copies of the study  to stakeholders,” Wager said.

Steve Svete of Rincon Consultants reviewed the plan and recommendations with  board members during a study session before Wednesday’s meeting. One  recommendation he mentioned was “moderate opportunities” for the district in the  future to acquire higher ranking parcels in the study area through a fee or  easement.

The study area consists of regional open spaces, existing and proposed public  trail systems and wildlife corridors that overlap areas of land owned by the  conservancy. Potential open-space holdings owned by Pleasant Valley include 26  acres at Camarillo Grove Park. An additional 428 acres of undeveloped land  surrounding the park could also be included in the final preservation plan that  is currently managed under a use agreement with a private landowner.