Conejo Parks: A Community Of Partnerships

The Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD) has many great parks, recreation amenities and community centers. Every effort is made by staff to operate and maintain these facilities, to be utilized to the greatest possible extent. However, to reap the full benefits of all they have to offer, it takes a community of partnerships. Thankfully, CRPD has been blessed with a number of key partnerships throughout its history. They are briefly highlighted below (with information from their websites):

City of Thousand Oaks. The CRPD was established in 1962, before the City of Thousand Oaks was incorporated (in 1964). Its purpose was to acquire and manage a ring of open space around the city. The City has been the principal partner with the CRPD ever since the two agencies were established nearly 60 years ago. Whether in community planning, future visioning, or funding assistance, the City has remained consistent and unwavering in its support of the CRPD. The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, the Goebel Adult Community Center, the Fiore Teen Center, the Hillcrest Center for the Arts, the Rancho Potrero Equestrian Center, the Conejo Coalition for Youth and Families, and Safe Passage are examples of several joint interests.

Conejo Valley Unified School District. Vision and collaboration between the CVUSD and CRPD have created some of our community’s most treasured activities and programs including, but not limited to, Joint Facility Use Agreement at school sites, recreation and homework help, Teen Center functions, recreational swimming and instruction, the Conejo Coalition for Youth and Families, Safe Passage and elementary music programs.

Arts Council of the Conejo Valley. The Arts Council of the Conejo Valley delivers and co-sponsors many cultural programs. Member services include marketing, technical assistance workshops and lowered rent at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts, a facility operated by CRPD. 

California Lutheran University. The community pool at CLU was made possible thanks to the cooperation of CLU, the City of Thousand Oaks, CVUSD and the CRPD. CRPD is responsible for ongoing maintenance, operations and programming.

Concerned Off-Road Bicycle Association. CORBA is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, which serves the mountain bicycling community, including southern Ventura County. They are dedicated to preserving open space, maintaining access to public lands and creating trail opportunities for the community to enjoy. CORBA has been an integral partner with CRPD in developing and maintaining the bicycle facilities at the Sapwi Trails Community Park. 

Conejo Disc Golf Club. George Sappenfield, Recreation Supervisor for CRPD, introduced this new game to many adults by planning the first official Disc Golf Tournament in 1969. Disc Golf was born in the Conejo Valley! The Club partners with CRPD by assisting as “ambassadors” for two disc golf courses located at Thousand Oaks Community Park (Rabbit Flats) and Sapwi Trails Community Park. 

Chumash Indian Museum. The Chumash Indian Museum, in Oakbrook Regional Park, is a historical site and a living history center. This museum is dedicated to restoring and preserving an awareness of the Chumash people and their historical and cultural present-day influence and the natural environment and significance of this site. The Oakbrook Regional Park Chumash Indian Corporation, a non-profit organization, manages and operates the museum and surrounding land and trails in cooperation with the CRPD.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden. The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is adjacent to Conejo Community Park; the CRPD owns it.  The Garden coordinates programs that bring the community and schools together to educate, understand, and appreciate the Earth. 

Equestrian Trails Incorporated Corral #37. Conejo Creek Equestrian Park is owned by CRPD but maintained by ETI Corral #37. It has become a popular public equestrian facility, and it is where ETI holds monthly events. ETI Corral #37 is dedicated to maintaining the equestrian history and lifestyle of the Conejo Valley. 

Las Flores Community Garden. The Las Flores Community Garden provides plots for the community to experience the rewards of organic gardening. They are committed to community pride and unity, teaching organic gardening methods, and preserving open spaces and native habitats for biodiversity. CRPD has provided the land for the Garden, which is located next to Waverly Park. 

McCrea Ranch Visitor Center. The McCrea Ranch was originally owned by movie stars Joel McCrea and his wife, Frances Dee. A personal friendship between Joel and Tex Ward, CRPD/General Manager Emeritus, helped lay the foundation for the McCreas to donate their ranch and family home to the CRPD in 2004. The McCrea Ranch Visitor Center provides a variety of interpretive, educational, and cultural programs for the community while at the same time preserving the unique history of this property.

Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship. Ride On is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities through a unique combination of equine-related therapy, recreation and fun. The CRPD partnered with Ride On to open the Walnut Grove Equestrian Center in Newbury Park. Additionally, CRPD has partnered with Ride On to manage and operate the recently acquired Rancho Potrero Community Equestrian Center to provide horsemanship programs, riding programs and camp programs.

Stagecoach Inn Museum. The Conejo Valley Historical Society was formed to save the original Grand Union Hotel from demolition in 1975. The Hotel was relocated to land owned by CRPD. The Stagecoach Inn Museum (the renamed Hotel) offers family-oriented special events, lectures, and school programs, all directed by docents. Also, on site is a replica of Timber School, the one-room Conejo Valley schoolhouse.  

Thousand Oaks Soaring Society. The Thousand Oaks Soaring Society uses the flying site at Sapwi Trails Community Park for remote control gliders. In return, the club members monitor and maintain the area and associated amenities. 

The Conejo Valley has been and continues to be a community of partnerships. Our parks, recreation facilities and community centers are a reflection of this. From the inception of their development to their current operations and programming, these partnerships reflect our community’s willingness to work together cooperatively while showing regard for their joint interests and mutual goals.Doug Nickles is a Director/Board Member for the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts. The views expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the District, Agency or the respective Boards. He can be contacted via email at

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