Rangeland conservationist Rich Atmore and Aera provide sound stewardship in the Ventura foothills
Rich Atmore manages over 7,000 acres of rangeland in the Ventura Foothills with his wife, Bonnie. His work includes restoring habitat, installing mitigation measures, removing non-native plants, reducing combustible fuel load and putting erosion-control projects into place. Atmore holds a California General Engineering Contractor’s License and a Qualified
Applicator’s License from the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Atmore received the 2011 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Stewardship and Sustainability from the Ventura County Resource Conservation District.
How are you connected to Aera?
I started working on the Lloyd lease near Ventura in 1979 for cattle ranchers Rocky Esparza and Toots Jauregui. The lease, which goes back to 1895, is now part of the Rancho Ventura Conservation Trust, which my wife, Bonnie, and I co-founded in 2016. My role is to conserve the land while keeping it in ranching. By the mid-1980s, I was also managing Lloyd’s surface and royalties on the lease, working with the oil and gas industry. In 1985, I started a weed-abatement service known as RA Atmore and Sons. Today, our crews provide weed-abatement services for Aera working through DeAngelo Brothers Inc. We continue to provide vegetation management around the lease with our cattle grazing operations.
As a steward of the land, what changes have you seen the oil and gas industry implement to protect the area where you operate?
A lot of things have changed since 1979 on the Ventura leases. Today’s oil industry exemplifies sound stewardship with a keen focus on protecting the environment and wildlife habitat, mitigating construction impacts, reducing erosion and restoring native plants. Also, I want to note Aera’s commitment to safety. Our vegetation-clearance crews work for a lot of companies and municipalities all over Southern California, and Area’s comprehensive safety program is absolutely second to none.
What makes ranchers and the oil industry good partners?
We have common goals with regard to land management. Our oil industry partners appreciate the contribution that our grazing operation plays in providing fuel-load reductions that lessen the potential for and impacts of wildfire to the oilfield and the neighboring community. Aera really helps us a lot by providing water for the cattle troughs in many areas around the lease. That same water provides an important source of water for wildlife as well. Our oil industry workers are also very helpful in observing and reporting to us any livestock in distress. Sometimes oilfield workers are cowboys too, only they wear hard hats.
Why do you support the oil and gas industry?
Oil and gas is essential in our everyday lives. Agriculture and the community depend on fossil fuels. Our economy would collapse without those fuels today. Two-thirds of California’s energy needs are imported from other areas. We need to produce our energy resources here to reduce the negative impacts of importing. The oil industry makes huge contributions to the local community and historically played a big part in building the City and County of Ventura. The industry provides high-paying local jobs and is among the highest taxpayers in the County of Ventura. If one looks to the Seal of the great County of Ventura, there is an oil derrick right in the middle. That’s why I agreed to be the founding president of the Coastal Energy Alliance, which works to educate key stakeholders and the public on local energy issues.