Antelope Valley Conservancy is a small, volunteer-managed conservancy, but we have developed a reputation for biological and organizational integrity and we are honored to have been chosen to fulfill preservation and stewardship projects with the California State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Energy Commission, Los Angeles County Sanitation District, Los Angeles County Significant Ecological Area Technical Advisory Committee, the City of Lancaster, and other local agencies. AVC is Authorized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to Hold Mitigation Lands and Endowments in Regions 4, 5, and 6.
When the Antelope Valley Conservancy was founded in 2005, no conservancy served the Antelope Valley area, so when government agencies required mitigation funding and habitat conservation from development projects, the funds and preservation were transferred to other regions. There was no organization through which local citizens could work to preserve local lands or even to advocate for regional habitat conservation. The destruction of hundreds of acres of Joshua Tree Woodlands in west Lancaster and the intentional destruction of an Audubon Society listed Burrowing Owl burrow site without consequences or mitigation was the final straw. Local citizens formed the Antelope Valley Conservancy (AVC).
By 2007, AVC was actively engaged in local conservation projects and regional planning, from Una Lake to Broad Canyon Wash, facilitating community communication about regional conservation goals. AVC hosted the first Endangered Species Day event in America, the Endangered Species Day Conference, bringing together federal, state and local agencies and local organizations to highlight their habitat conservation activities.
In 2008, AVC completed its first Due Diligence Review by the California Department of Fish and Game and earned Authorization to Hold Mitigation Lands. In 2009, AVC adopted the Antelope Valley Trails and Recreation Council (AVTREC), a nonprofit organization descended from the Antelope Valley Heritage Foundation, and began hosting the annual Bicycle Ride and Earth Day Cleanup events. In 2010, AVC rented its first tiny office space in Palmdale, and conducted the 10/10/10 Plastic Bag Exchange at six locations.
In 2011, AVC accepted its first donation of land, a small parcel in Big Rock Wash which was subsequently funded for in-perpetuity preservation. Several other preserves have now been established in the immediate area. AVC hosted the annual Burrowing Owl Symposium.
In 2012, AVC garnered mitigation funding to establish a burrowing owl and desert tortoise preserve south of Edwards Air Force Base, which we have since expanded to 100 acres.
In 2013 AVC's grants were funded to acquire 40 acres of essential wetlands at the Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area, in the southeastern Antelope Valley, for transfer to the Los Angeles County Department of Parks. AVC also funded biological studies and planning efforts, and agreed to accept Conservation Easements over oak woodlands habitat in the western Antelope Valley, Rift Zone Wetlands by Una Lake, and along the Mojave River.
In 2015 through 2017, AVC provided restoration and mitigation planning services to the City of Lancaster for its retention basin at Avenue H, and supported the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts' acquisition planning for Alkali Mariposa lily and other rare plants. AVC also funded a study and worked, albeit unsuccessfully, to preserve lake habitats in the western Antelope Valley for the southernmost remaining Tricolored blackbird colonies.
By 2018 AVC garnered state approval for the Rift Zone Conceptual Area Preservation Plan (CAPP), for a ten-mile wetlands corridor along the San Gabriel Mountains north slope. Landowners within the CAPP area can apply for acquisition or stewardship funding from the California Wildlife Conservation Board.
In 2019 and 2020 AVC acquired additional land to expand its Big Rock Wash 1 preserve. for desert tortoise and burrowing owl. AVC streamlined its operations and adapted to the new realities of social distancing by closing its public office and holding meetings via video. AVC successfully engaged in the comment process for CESA listing for the western Joshua Tree and in the route planning for California's High Speed Rail in south Palmdale, preventing destruction of Una Lake and the adjacent Rift Zone wetlands.
And in 2021 AVC has embarked on Joshua Tree Woodland preservation.
Over the years AVC has has hosted Earth Day Events, Endangered Species Day Conferences, the 10/10 Plastic Bag Exchange, the annual Bicycle Ride Day, and educational art exhibits including Selections from the Waste Wunderkammer. AVC has hosted Habitat Cleanups for our own preserves as well as CA State Parks and Los Angeles County Sanctuaries. AVC also participates in community hosted events and fairs such as the P-22 Day Festival and SOAR High School's Enviro Fair, and AVC offers presentations at schools and community groups to educate the public about desert habitat, wildlands stewardship, climate change and carbon footprint, and sustainability.