Watershed, Summer 2001
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Valley View Ranch History
by Sanger Hedrick, Jr., Manager of Valley View Ranch

The ranch property was purchased by Benjamin Hedrick from T.M. Storke of Santa Barbara in March 1946. Known as Storke Ranch, it originally encompassed 812 acres. At the time of its purchase, the ranch utilization consisted largely of field crops (tomatoes, sugar beets, alfalfa, lima beans, etc.), grazing, walnuts, and a few acres of young citrus trees.

By the 1960's, the ranch came to be called "Valley View Ranch" and consisted of about 440 acres. It was passed on to second generation Hedricks and managed by Sanger Hedrick, Sr. At that time, the remaining suitable fields had been planted to citrus (about 120 acres). The balance of over 300 acres was primarily river bottom and river terrace. This area was utilized for grazing, hunting (duck clubs), aquaculture and a watercress farm. In the 1990's, the ownership of Valley View Ranch was passed to yet a third generation and I became its manager.

As with most farm families and their ranch properties, it became economically infeasible to continue to hold and operate the ranch and meet all an owner's needs and expectations. Hoping to work out a distribution plan that could meet all the remaining family interests within the framework of Trust directives--yet maintain a viable farming interest for those in the family who desired it--I began exploring alternatives for dividing the property.

At about this time (around 1995), while on a visit to Ventura County Flood Control to review some documents being produced by the SCREMP, I was introduced to Mr. Reed Holderman who was, at that time, with the California Coastal Conservancy. Conversation ensued concerning the expanding role that the Conservancy was taking in preserving important coastal wetlands and critical habitat areas. I passed on information describing some of the river terrace wetlands and their unique habitat value on Valley View, then invited Mr. Holderman to take a tour and brainstorm some possibilities for help in acquiring and protecting these areas.

Needless to say, we both had a common vision, though from differing perspectives. Mr. Holderman and I worked out an approach to make a deal--in principle. The road to working out the deal, and closing it, has been long with many unseen detours. But it never faltered from its ultimate direction.


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