Oceanfront Land in Ventura County Becomes Nature Preserve

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Illustration by Diane Kim

Melanie Martinez

Co-Science & Tech Editor

In Ventura County, a vast stretch of coastline northwest of Malibu has become the center of a legal battle. The steep slopes and scented sage in this area gained the attention of both biologists and land developers, each with their own agendas. The competition between two opposing sides attempting to gain possession of this land could spell out drastically different fates for whichever side claimed ownership. 

There are many factors that make this land, Deer Creek Beach, so appealing. The 1,250 acres of untouched land flourishes with biodiversity, including mountain lions, deer, and bobcats. Majestic views of dolphins, sea lions, and gray whales can be seen from the beach. This area is also the perfect place for visitors and is only an hour from the nearest city. However, for all its scenic beauty, this property also appeals to developers intending to create more luxury estates.

The untouched potential of the land is what heavily appealed to former developer Henry Mansford. The Mansford family purchased the land decades ago but it was ultimately left abandoned. However, Henry still had big plans for developing the land; these plans included 18 golf courses, a five-star hotel, and luxury estates. 

Biologists and conservationists, on the other hand, saw this land having different potential. The land has barely changed from when the Chumash occupied this land centuries ago. 20 years ago, the National Parks also had sights on the Mansford property, as the land served as a natural corridor between the Santa Monica Mountains and the 14,000-acre Point Mugu State Park. Preserving this coastline would be essential to creating a connection between the outdoors and Southern Californians, an escape from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. 

After battles between these groups in the courtroom, a new chapter began for Deer Creek Beach when the nonprofit conservation group The Trust for Public Land announced it had paid $25 million for Deer Creek Beach and that the land would remain untouched by developers and become a nature preserve. 

While the project may take around two years, the process of converting Deer Creek Beach into a nature preserve is currently underway. Current projects consist of repairing stairs connecting parking spaces and the beachfront. As well as adding a segment of the Coastal Slope Trail, which consists of a 70-mile network of paths

Now that the land has been designated a nature preserve, what does that mean for the future of Deer Creek Beach? Under new protections the beach will gain larger habitat linkages that will be safeguarded, resulting in better adaptation to hotter and drier climates. Being labeled a nature preserve also includes the protection of animals and plants as well as economic benefits. 

After many years in a legal battle, Ventura County’s vast oceanfront finally has a clear future. With the efforts made by The Trust for Public Land, Deer Creek Beach has been reclaimed for conservation. The battle to keep the natural beauty of California is rewarding for Californians and the future of natural areas.  

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