Sentimental malcontents who prefer fresh air!

The following article first appeared on Wednesday, June 28, 1967 in “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette”. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The article’s author was Nick Robertson. Robertson was only a high school senior at Happy Valley School at the time he authored the article.  The photo of Robertson was added to this article by the Ojai Valley Museum.  

Sentimental malcontents who prefer fresh air!
by
Nick Robertson
Happy Valley Senior

Whether the State of California has a right to rip a freeway out of the Ojai valley is another important issue. The State has lost before, and is probably tired of having to deal with sentimental discontents who prefer fresh air and trees to 15 minutes.

The best thing about the freeway is that almost everyone in Ojai hates it, regardless of political persuasion. People who consider many of their neighbors slightly better than the black shirts sign petitions below their neighbors.

It might even pave the way for a healthy round of civil disobedience if the State decides to go along in spite of the will of residents.

Of course, the most important thing is that people are getting visibly upset and concerned over these two things. Generations, all of them, are continually flinging the epithet “the non-involvement generation” at the others, but at the first city council meeting on recreation, people of all ages attended. Petitions against the freeway, or, if you will, the scenic highway (it doesn’t matter, I guess. We got used to “Defense Department” too), are signed by everyone. People are getting as delightfully disgruntled with police as the post-war French.

It only takes a moment to consider all the advantages of local politics. You are there, you know the people involved, no FBI and investigations and phone taps, no federal troops, never an interpreter problem. You can be heard, and read on every local issue no matter how trivial.

True, there are disadvantages, such as an occasional lull in issues. But there are ways, friends, to remedy this. (Just ask Mrs. Gilman!) Send your mayor on a junket, which not only broadens the scope of civic politics, but also gives you a chance to have him slammed and possibly even censured. Attempt to hold a non-middle-class festival, of any sort. Force an investigation. Pull for statements on pressing issues.

And, just for a joke, maybe we can even get enough people to secede.

Fervor, here

While it is doubtful that either of the major political summers – the long hot and Vietnam – will be likely to reach Ojai, it appears that anyone interested in politics can apply themselves with fervor to one of several local issues which are generating interest.

Local politics concern very few people. Bill Donovan of the Stewpot Restaurant tells of a college town in New England, which was governed, of course, by town meetings, where the college students out-numbered the populace. The state, in an attempt to obtain more revenue, decided to charge a $2 poll tax to the non-resident students. The students, naturally indignant, found that this enabled them to attend town meetings. They did – en masse. The students, tremendously out-numbering the town residents, passed two resolutions: first, that the city should build a tower a yard square and a half a mile high, and second, that they should build a covered moving sidewalk to the nearest girl’s college, well over 50 miles away. The poll tax law was, needless to say, repealed, and the citizens were left to spend their nights arguing about water districts, taxes, and school boards again.

Civic politics have a reputation for provinciality, a reputation a recent article in Esquire claimed, stemming form the European tradition. But in my mind, local politics gives everyone a chance to participate, a privilege reserved for actors and millionaires normally.

While it might be true that a youthful Trotskyite, or for that matter, even a young Republican is not likely to be terribly concerned about school boards, water districts and such, it is definitely satisfying to actually be heard above a telegram to a congressman. It almost helps to take away some of the numbness of a bureaucracy.

But Ojai’s current recreation versus budget struggle smacks of political philosophy: it might be a good cause if only for the moral. More conservative groups can clamor about god, or the city council, helping the – excuse me, those – who helped themselves, while at the other pole, people can keep prodding socialism to get up and run in lieu of creeping.

Ojai resident Nick Robertson when he was around 14 years old.

GUN CLUB TIDIES UP SHELF ROAD SHOOTING SITE

This article was in the Thursday, October 27, 1960 edition of “The Ojai Press.” The author is unknown. “The Ojai Press” was acquired by the “Ojai Valley News.” The article is reprinted here with the permission of the “Ojai Valley News.”

GUN CLUB TIDIES UP SHELF ROAD SHOOTING SITE 

GOOD SKATES USE RAKES -- To help the community, members of the Ojai Valley Gun Club went Saturday with rakes and cleaned up the area on Shelf Road where a lot of practice shooting is done. Left to right are Bud Creswell, treasurer of the club; C. T. Johnson, vice-president; Cherie Johnson; Ric Johnson, president; and Audrey Hoyt.
GOOD SKATES USE RAKES — To help the community, members of the Ojai Valley Gun Club went Saturday with rakes and cleaned up the area on Shelf Road where a lot of practice shooting is done. Left to right are Bud Creswell, treasurer of the club; C. T. Johnson, vice-president; Cherie Johnson; Ric Johnson, president; and Audrey Hoyt.

Over the weekend a group of members of the Ojai Valley Gun Club cleaned up the site on Shelf Rd. where most Valley shooters do their practicing. Two pickup truck loads of junk were collected and hauled to the dump and a trash barrel was placed at the site.

Next Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Casitas Recreation Area the Gun Club will hold a .22 caliber rifle shoot for youngsters from 12 to 17 years of age. Each group or individual entering must be sponsored by an adult and provide his own .22 rifle and ammunition. Anyone interested may obtain information by contacting Ric Johnson, MI 6-2284 or Hugh McBride, MI 6-3185.

Ventura River Municipal Water District has given permission for .22 rifle shoots at the Casitas Dam Recreation Area and the Gun Club, with the cooperation of Glen Todd, director of the area, has held several shoots there. The club is still searching for a suitable range convenient to the Valley so that they can do all types of shooting.

The regular meeting of the group will be held Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 2 at Nordhoff High School.

A program will be put on by representatives of the Winchester Arms Co. and manufacturers of loading tools and components. It will be a “hand-loaders” clinic.

All interested persons are invited to attend.

Vast Reaches of Los Padres Forest Excite Visitors’ Imagination on Ranger Inspection

This article appeared in the Thursday, February 9, 1961 edition of THE OJAI PRESS which eventually became The Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Vast Reaches of Los Padres Forest Excite Visitor’s Imagination on Ranger Inspection
By Polly Bee

Beyond our Ojai horizons are the vast and exciting lands of Los Padres National Forest, protected and nurtured under the zealous eye of the United States Forest Service. Comprising 51 percent of the total land in Ventura County, the forest’s rugged 516,000 acres excites the mind and invites the senses.

It is a land of hiking, riding, camping; canyons, meadows, cliffs, astounding views; home of the condor and refuge of wild life; land of wind and silence.

Recently I was privileged to accompany John Parkinson, Ojai district ranger, on one of his inspection trips to the Nordhoff lookout tower. We turned off highway 399 at the Wilcox Cabins, unlocked a gate, and started our rocky, bumpy ascent along a narrow road bordered with spectacular drop-offs.

Such access roads are open to hikers and horseback riders, but not to public automobiles, as easements over private property are involved in many sections. The roads are built under private contracts, although the forest maintains one grader and two bulldozers for clearance work.

Pointed Out Trail

As we wound our way up, Parkinson pointed out parts of the state riding trail, which presently terminates at Highway 399 but will eventually continue along the CCC built, fire access road of Camino Cielo Ridge. The trail starts at the Mexican border and bifurcates in Los Angeles, where one section leads to the high Sierras and the other passes through Ventura County headed for Monterey and San Francisco. Both sections will terminate in Oregon.

Existing trails are used when possible, and in this area the Pratt trail is utilized. Monies are appropriated from the State Department of Beaches and Parks for this project.

With the aid of a map Parkinson pointed out key peaks, commenting that it literally takes an act of Congress to change any names. They are the same recorded by early settlers. He noted there are five sites called Pine Mountain, not to be confused with Mt. Pinos, which designates an entirely different district of the forest.

Near the summit of Nordhoff, some 4477 foot elevation, we stopped to look at the thrilling panorama of the Ojai and Santa Ana Valleys lying in a topographical study below. The wind, the quietness and the vastness are wondrous to behold.

Traveled to Town

We traveled on to the lookout tower where amiable Cliff Runte greeted us with a hospitable grin. His home here is a square room atop a tower, glassed on all sides with the simple furnishings of stove, table, bed and chairs arranged around a circular fire-finder in the center. Here Mr. Runte commands a 360-degree view which is recorded every 15-minutes. A lookout for 16 years, he was stationed at this particular site during the 1948 fire when the tower burned to the ground.

INSIDE TOWER -- Within the tower are Cliff Runte (left), who for the past 16 years has viewed mountain terrain from a glassed-in room. With him is Ojai Ranger John Parkinson.
INSIDE TOWER — Within the tower are Cliff Runte (left), who for the past 16 years has viewed mountain terrain from a glassed-in room. With him is Ojai Ranger John Parkinson.

He spoke of lightning striking during a November 1960 storm, which literally made things jump in the tower. An independent type, Runte enjoys his summit solitude yet has plans for extensive travel some day.

With the aid of a map drawn in the dirt, Ranger Parkinson surveyed the district lands and explained to me the need of further access roads in order to penetrate the mountains effectively. He spoke with enthusiasm of the changing concept of national forests, which has progressed from a viewpoint of forests as strictly a reserve, to today’s concept of public enjoyment and utilization of forest areas.

Recreation to Grow

Predicting that by 1970 the industry of recreation in Ventura County would be second only to oil, he spoke of the minimum funds available for campsite equipment and expressed hope that through cooperative efforts with the county, more forested areas would be available for public use.

He told me of the great Sespe Wildlife Area, closed except for the public Oak Flat Road from Fillmore. Entailing a separate management plan, this area is a reserve approved by the Secretary of the Interior for preservation of the condor. A governing board of three men (the president of the Audubon Society, the wildlife manager of the regional office in San Francisco, and one other person, usually a specialist in ornithology) must approve any activity in the area, such as road building, gas and oil leases, open corridors for fishing sites, or grazing permits. The National Audubon Society contributes to the salary for an officer in this area.

We talked a little of the PUMA county road plan which will utilize Seabee activity in the Rose Valley for a highway coming from Route 99 and joining with Route 399 as a direct inland route to the coast. Possible dam sites in the Sespe basin will further open up the now inaccessible areas.

I was interested in a map which showed private property within the forest and learned that zoning in these areas is within county jurisdiction, but most are in an A-1 designation at present. Private ownership in the Forest dates to the Teddy Roosevelt administration when the 1890 Homestead Act was discontinued.

May Trade Land

There is a plan whereby property owners may trade their holdings within the forest for lands on the boundaries, thus consolidating national property. Parkinson touched on the need of cooperative planning along the borders toward compatible uses with county land planning.

The district’s land use plan, which is revised every five years, includes the following primary components:

1) Fire Plan, 2) Recreation Resources Inventory, 3) Wildlife Management, 4) Grazing Plan, 5) Five-year New Construction in Recreation, 6) Trail Construction Program.

Of county concern are the flood control districts for fire prevention and watershed protection for the Casitas and Matilija Lakes areas. County funds contribute to salaries of officers in these districts.

I inquired as to whether trees had ever grown on the rugged slopes of the range and learned that indications of redwood and ponderosa pine have been found. In Ventura County part of a redwood tree was discovered while drilling at the 5,000 foot level.

Parkinson spoke of the plans for reseeding and said that 250 redwoods had been set out in twelve different areas as a trial planting.

Anticipating little success with these, however, he hoped that a good rainy season would allow the planting of 500 Arizona cypress and big-coned firs for further experiment.

He told me of conversion methods whereby an area can become less of a fire hazard through chemical, mechanical and burning controls. The chemical method is an expensive process but might be used in an area such as surrounds Ojai, where fire danger to the city is eminent.

Meets With Boys

In addition to management problems Ranger Parkinson last year addressed 57 organizations, 7 high schools and many Scout troops. He meets with boys interested in forestry as a career and had organized a learning program in cooperation with the schools whereby two or three students from each high school actually work with the forestry personnel for one week doing fire prevention work, range management, campground reconstruction and trail maintenance.

“This is a healthy interest among county children in conservation and forestry,” he stated, and cited an example of 250 students last year rehabilitating a campground near Santa Paula, using their own tools and raising the necessary funds. He spoke with deep conviction and enthusiasm of the concept of the National Forest as a dynamic county inventory and mentioned that in actuality he represents the largest landowner in the third supervisorial district.

His pride is contagious, and as we ricocheted our way down I felt I had been introduced to a new world whose horizons beckon with adventures beyond the confines of our Valley.

EVER ALERT -- This is the Nordhoff Lookout Tower from which watch is kept with observations recorded every fifteen minutes in the constant vigil against forest fire.
EVER ALERT — This is the Nordhoff Lookout Tower from which watch is kept with observations recorded every fifteen minutes in the constant vigil against forest fire.