Ramblin’ Repartee

The first of a 47 part series, I plan on interviewing luminaries, standouts and rockstars of the local treehugging community.  I know, you’re on the edge of your seats….

If it were socially acceptable for a man to have another man as a muse… mine would be Rick Bisaccia.  Preserve Manager for OVLC he taught me my first plants (manzanita and hummingbird sage), took me on my first hike (Wills-Rice Canyon Loop), and endured endless poorly focused pictures for plant identification.   He took time out of his busy schedule to allow me to bombard him.

1.  50 words or less… tell us what you do at OVLC I deal with everything on the ground which has to do with user issues (crimes, outreach) and maintenance on all 8 of our areas.  I also deal with all maintenance issues, signs, trails, border issues, neighbor issues and dealing with myriad public and other agencies pertaining to the lands.
2.  Best part of your job  The best part is when I succeed at something, whether it’s catching a scofflaw and getting recompense or a judgement, teaching someone something they didn’t know and dealing with people who truly appreciate that they get to use OVLC lands.
3.  Worst part of your job  Dealing with people who don’t follow the rules, who vandalize, litter and have dogs off leash and having to deal with them time after time.
4.  Weirdest part of your job  Cleaning up used condoms (especially the pink ones) and having to bury human waste around homeless camps.
5.  Favorite singers/bands of all time  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young/Cat Stevens/The Rolling Stones  (I guess you can guess when I was teenager…..)
6.  Favorite trail in Ojai  I’ve always liked the trail to the Pines. (Horn Canyon – ed.)
7.  Favorite native wildflower/shrub/tree  Blue-eyed Grass/Manzanita/California Bay Laurel
8.  What current OVLC projects can you tell us about  We’ve done several trail reroutes this year on the VRP (Ventura River Preserve), we’ve begun restoration of the orange grove portion of Rice Creek and much continued planting on the OMP (Ojai Meadow Preserve).  We’re also getting ready to install new trailhead main preserve signage on a number of our areas.
9.  What future OVLC projects can you tell us about Really, continuing with more of the same as above and trying to continue working with the USFS in getting the Kennedy Ridge and El Camino Trails project continued.
10.  You grew up in Ojai, what trails/beer guzzling spots do you remember enjoying as a young rapscallion By the time I could drink in the bars here as a young man I was in the military and I would usually head in the opposite direction from bars and head out into the wilds wherever I was (Italy, the Caribbean, France, Spain, etc.) and just revel in being outside after being cooped up inside a warship for weeks at a time.
11.  What has changed most about Ojai since you were young  The flavor of Ojai is much the same, but there is a whole lot more people and traffic.  I remember going to the dedication of the first traffic light in the valley at the Post Office and Arcade intersection in 1962 or so.  Also, there are more tourists.
12.  Where else in California do you enjoy visiting/hiking/camping The eastern Sierras, the Carrizo Plain, Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness…
13.  Most despised non-native plants  the mustards, eucalyptus, star thistle, European nettle.
14.  Non-natives that ain’t so bad/honorary native plants  scarlet pimpernel
15.  Who got you into nature/native plants originally  Very clearly, my dad who started teaching me when I was about 6 yrs. old.  We used to eat non-native plants for dinner at times which was a carry over from the dietary habits of my Italian grandmother.  My dad is very much into native American culture, especially that of the Chumash and their ethnobotany and material culture.  I continued learning about nature on a grander scale through the merit badge program of the Boy Scouts and had the great good fortune to work as a nature counselor for three summer in the SB backcountry under the direction of UCSB natural science professors who I worked under.
16.  Favorite Ojai eateries  Hip, La Herredura and Seafresh
17.  Hikers/Bikers/Horse riders… will they ever get along?  Actually the better selves among these groups don’t have issues with each other, it’s just “entitled” people who think they don’t have to follow rules and get along.  There are actually a number of people who mix it up, for example a horserider might also hike or bike and vice versa so this engenders understanding.
18.  What can regular folks do to help OVLC?  Regular folks can variously give money, become a member, volunteer and follow the rules on our preserves.
19.  Non political causes you support  I’m a member of the Park Rangers Association, The California Native Plant Society, a volunteer fire department, CREW, The Boy Scouts of America.
20.  If you had a 5 million dollar grant to spend on OVLC project(s), what would you do?  I’d give it to opening up our new Steelhead Preserve as a visitor center (for which we’re trying to get money) and to the public. I’d also put it into getting me an assistant, especially to help with manual labor.  This would leave a whole lot leftover.  For sure I could buy several new properties.

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