"Getting to Know You"
Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency
Thousand Oaks Park Rangers
by Richard Weiner, Region 4 Director
On December 12, 2017, I took a ride along with Ranger Kari Stav to see the open spaces, trails and artifacts that lie within the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA). Having seen the hills from a distance, the up close and personal viewing of the parks and trails was amazing.
COSCA preserves, protects, and manages open space resources in the Conejo Valley. This open space system is a refuge from urbanization where trails are open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. COSCA is a joint power agency (JPA) between the City of Thousand Oaks (CTO) and the Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD). It is a Special District that is funded by Ventura County property taxes. COSCA was the first JPA of its kind in the State when it was formed 1n 1977. COSCA is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of two members of the CRPD Board of Directors, two members of the City Council, and one appointed member of the public.
An independent foundation (Conejo Open Space Foundation) supports the Agency via fundraising and volunteer programs. The volunteer programs are invaluable to the Rangers as they include Adopt a trail (the adoptee helps to maintain that trail), Trail Watch and Trail Patrol (where volunteers check the trail, map boxes, mutt-mitt boxes, etc. and educate visitors on COSCA’S Ordinances.
The volunteers are the Rangers’ eyes and ears; they write up trail reports after each visit to the trails that go directly to the Ranger phones and alert the Rangers of when a tree is down or erosion is occurring etc. so that the Rangers can respond with the appropriate equipment.
The major duties and responsibilities of the Rangers are:
1. Maintenance of open spaces
2. Interpretation, public education
3. Law enforcement
Here are some facts about COSCA:
1. Population served: 129,000
2. Ranger program established: 1977
3. Number of Rangers: 6 Rangers, 1 Open Space Technician
4. Number of Contractors (Seasonal workers): currently none – if you know someone who’s interested contact the Rangers
5. Basic Requirements: Associates Degree with 60 filed units, PC 832, Wilderness First Aid/CPR, CA State Parks Basic and Intermediate Trails Maintenance and Management Programs or equivalent, Chainsaw Training (Wildland Fire Suppression 212 or equivalent)
6. 41 Open Spaces and 50 neighborhood/community parks
7. Over 150 miles of trail/15,200 acres of Open Space
8. Major open spaces: 2,600 acres (North Park), 1,765 acres (Wildwood), 1,673 (Conejo Canyon)
9. More than 600 plant species - 17 of which are either rare, threatened, or endangered.
10. Vehicles: 5 Ranger Trucks, 1 Pick-up, 5 bikes (some electric bikes), 1 water buffalo (water tender), 1 Trail Cat
One of the artifacts that we saw was an old cave used by the Chumash Indians. Entering into the shelter where they might have slept, were large rocks worn with holes (mortars) that might have been used to grind corn or plants to eat. There were markings (pictographs) on the walls of the cave made by the occupants. We also saw some fossils, an ancient riverbed and some new steps that were installed by the rangers for public use, going up a trail on the side of the mountain.
This ride along gave me a more in depth look at the make-up and responsibilities of the rangers that patrol in Thousand Oaks.
If you are interested in a "Getting to Know You" article
highlighting your agency for the Signpost, please drop a line to your Region Director