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Ojai naturalist Lanny Kaufer will venture out to Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve in Ojai on Saturday, May 25 -- and he's inviting the public.

Due to the Thomas fire of December 2017 that surrounded but did not destroy the Taft Gardens, visiting the private property which is operated by the Conservation Endowment Fund (CEF), was not possible last year.

Excessive winter rainfall brought the land back to life, allowing Kaufer once again to lead fellow naturalists to experience the rare location in the mountains west of Ojai above Lake Casitas. The private property contains no public trails that connect to the outside world.

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The land features plants and a renowned Mediterranean-climate botanic garden. A docent will be present to share some of the rare exotic plants found in the Botanic Garden after Kaufer first leads a walk among the native plants on the Nature Preserve.

The group will meet at Maricopa Plaza in Ojai between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. for a carpool to reduce the number of cars on the private road to the Garden. The travel time to the trailhead will be 20-30 minutes. Beginning at 9 a.m., total walking distance will be approximately 1 mile.

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Participants are invited to stay and enjoy their sack lunch in a beautiful setting after the tour. The plan calls for having some cars leave at 12:30 p.m. to arrive back at Maricopa Plaza by 1 p.m. for those not staying for lunch.

The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62-up, and $10 for students 13-17. Kids 5-12 can attend free, one per adult, pending request and approval. An additional $10 suggested donation per person is requested by CEF. There is a donation box at the end of the tour where cash or checks can be deposited. CEF survives on donations to support the operations and upkeep of the garden and open space.

To register for the Herb Walk, visit HerbWalks.com or call 805-646-6281.

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Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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