We Asked, You Answered
By Operations Director Tim Bulone
“Being outside is a great way to reduce stress and it serves as a reminder that we are surrounded by beauty. I live in Pine Mountain Club and have been exploring the trails here. Most of the time I see no one else while on these walks. I come home from them feeling re-energized.”
We shouldn’t be surprised that nature and the outdoors seem to play significant roles for people during crisis. We asked a random group of people, who have either visited or hoped to visit the Ranch, about their views on a variety of topics. Their anonymous answers helped enlighten us, among other things, about why people find the Ranch alluring, why they don’t visit more often, and what they’d like to do when it’s safe to come back. (Please note: The photos accompanying this article were taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic.)
Walking, gardening, birding, and observing wildlife were all included in the responses people had describing how they are interacting with nature right now. They described their experiences this way: keeps me sane; a mental break; good exercise; peace and connection to the wonders of life; mentally refreshing; very high priority; reduces stress and anxiety; it’s essential; and, nature refreshes me.
One person described how even city life has changed for them during this unusual time. They wrote, “There are small, uncommon pleasures in a city brought to a halt. When you step outside in Los Angeles these days, the air is crystal clear… Traffic in the city is nonexistent. When I make the occasional food run (blessing the grocery store workers), I can turn left at the end of my street onto Wilshire Blvd. for the first time in 20 years… When I go out to pick up the newspapers from my driveway (thank you, unseen delivery person), the birds are singing more spiritedly than usual. Is that just the lack of background noise, or are they actually happy we creatures on the ground below have become less frenetic?”
When it is finally safe to return to the Ranch, most people were equally divided between taking a tour and hiking. No surprise there really. “A day on your ranch wipes away my stress and worry. The lands of the ranch are the way much of California was when I was a child, calm and welcoming.” Birding, nature journaling, photography events, and wildflower viewing were also mentioned as activities others are interested in.
“I would love to have Reema Hammad lead photo trips to some of her favorite locations. Her intimate knowledge of the Ranch and her skills in photography would make for a compelling and informative workshop.”
Unless you live in one of the surrounding communities, getting to the Ranch is the single biggest hurdle people found to enjoying it. Although visitors have come to Conservancy events from some pretty far-flung places (to see wildflowers, for example), long drives are not high on people’s wish lists. Time was a second factor. Most frequently mentioned was having to schedule and plan far in advance to participate in Conservancy events. The cost of events, lack of interesting programs, and access difficulty were minor reasons people chose not to participate.
Despite these difficulties, far and away, people recognize the importance of the Ranch for both recreation and conservation, and want to visit.
“I am a college professor and have taken my Environmental Assessment class there to explore the various ecosystems and management activities on the Ranch, first with Mike White and later with Ellery Mayence. I will be teaching this class again next spring and hope to be able to take the students out to explore the Ranch.”
“Tejon Ranch is beyond words for conservation. The more I learn, the more in awe I am.”
“Living in LA, the ability to escape the city and get out into the wilds is critical. The history of the ranchos also makes it an integral part of California. As John Muir said, ‘The mountains are calling.’”
“I believe that the Tejon Ranch is indeed a very important resource for both recreation and conservation. Whether a person’s interest is the flora, fauna, geology, or history, it is all there. The wildlife and plants are diverse and must be protected. The ranch is a major corridor for the wildlife and in order to survive they must be able to travel.”
“There is nothing I treasure more than being out in the wilderness. And, the ranch does that for me. I am all in about preserving this place, which is one of the most unique places I've ever visited. I love hiking around the ranch. I love finding all the wonderful creature treasures that live there or pass through there. The ranch is so special that it has awakened other interests in the natural realm that I've dismissed before. It has drawn me to wildflowers, insects, trees, reptiles, and also the major reason why I wanted to go there in the first place: birds.”
We truly appreciate all the responses we received. The message was clear to us that people not only enjoy nature, but perhaps need it to balance themselves, especially now. Their love for the conserved lands of Tejon Ranch and its vast open spaces, wildflowers, and wild creatures has not wavered, despite whatever difficulties it may take to get here. We look forward to the days in which we can once again swing the gate open and see you on the Ranch.