Ventana Wilderness Alliance

Caring for The Ventana Wilderness It’s no mystery why visitors travel from all over the globe to enjoy the views in Big Sur and the Santa Lucia Range. The jagged coastline, steep mountains and breathtaking scale have the power to inspire awestruck wonder.

Fortunately, the natural beauty here will be forever preserved because much of this land is part of the Ventana Wilderness and is permanently protected from any form of development.

Although the task of letting the wilderness remain wild sounds simple enough, it becomes a challenge when humans enter the scene. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance was founded in the summer of 1998 in response to this challenge as a “grass-roots organization whose mission is to protect, preserve, and restore the wilderness qualities and biodiversity of the public lands within California’s Santa Lucia Mountains and Big Sur Coast.” Its job, in a nutshell, is creating a way for nature and visitors to co-exist in harmony.

As with many non-profits, volunteers play a vital role at the VWA. Ever find yourself taking a trail for granted until there is a fallen tree in the way? This is where we can thank the Trail Crew, the volunteers who clear trails throughout the Ventana.

The Volunteer Wilderness Rangers, trained by the US Forest Service, maintain recreation sites and trails while educating visitors on wilderness etiquette. They focus their efforts on popular trails, such as the Pine Ridge Trail corridor connecting the trailhead near the coast to the popular Sykes Camp, famous for its hot springs. Here they make sure “Leave No Trace” principles are being followed, along with other general wilderness “rules,” such as using the provided fire rings and wilderness toilets.

VWA volunteers also work to positively impact the lives of many through the Youth in Wilderness Program. These youths, who otherwise might not have chosen backpacking over television and video games, experience valuable lessons in environmental education, stewardship and community.

A few times a year, the VWA releases a newsletter containing current news and detailing progress made as well as program highlights. In addition, informative pamphlets are provided for explorers, offering them tips on how to leave the wilderness looking better than when they arrived.

The Ventana Wilderness Alliance website is a valuable resource for visitors (or any curious reader), offering details of programs, history, ways to get involved and an extensive list of resources on the flora and fauna found in the Ventana ecosystem.

Interested in volunteering for or supporting this organization? Follow this link to visit the Ventana Wilderness Alliance website, or contact them here:

PO Box 506
Santa Cruz, CA 95061