By Melissa A. Nagel, Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
The local White Wolf Wellness Foundation (WWWF) received a $27,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) in June to use towards revitalizing the Okihi Preserve located along the Kern River. Once known as Camp Ohiki, the Okihi Preserve spans 13.7 acres along the Kern River in the County Park located off Round Mountain Road.
The preserve has multiple conservation concerns due to being in the riparian (riverbank) zone that is mostly owned by residential citizens, which has reduced the amount of preserved land and wildlife in the area. The grant funds received will be used to help restore some of the native plants and animal species that have become sparse in the area in recent years. There will also be a large focus on rebuilding the infrastructure at Okihi to provide a safe outdoor space for the community to connect with nature and enjoy for generations to come.
Change begins within. Those are the first words you’ll see when visiting the White Wolf Wellness Foundations website. Words that help encompass the mission statement of the foundation and the Okihi Preserve, which is “To inspire and enrich the community with biologically diverse green spaces and mindful outdoor recreation that will directly serve to end many of the health disparities in Bakersfield.”
This nonprofit organization was established in 2018 by founders Katherine and Stephen Winters with the goal of establishing a healthier and happier community. By offering services such as meditation and donation-based yoga, the foundation can reach people both in-person and online, allowing the foundation to impact a larger group of individuals.
There have also been several local music shows at Okihi this year hosted by local musician Crimson Skye. The shows have featured a variety of local musicians and have included food, drinks, and the option to camp overnight by the river. These unique opportunities have helped bring awareness to the foundation and the preserve and show the community first-hand the value of rehabilitating this 13-mile stretch of land along the Kern River.
The foundation also offers a unique “sound bath” experience via a repurposed ambulance donated by the Virginia and Alfred Harrell foundation. The OMbulance has been converted into a mobile sound stage that can travel anywhere, bringing a medley of intentional sound waves to complement any yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness-based function you may have in mind.
The rehabilitation of the Okihi Preserve is highly dependent upon donations, as there is extensive work to be done to bring the area back to life. Donations can be made on the foundation’s website in monetary form. Gift cards to local nurseries and home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes are also accepted and highly appreciated. For information on upcoming events, yoga and meditation classes, donating, and more, please visit the foundation’s website at WhiteWolfWellness.org.