Tuesday, August 2, 2016

River Parkway progress

A recent news article in the Ventura County Star highlights the progress on the Ventura River Parkway.  Most notably, our two land conservancies have made major headway in acquiring floodplain properties and addressing the non-native giant reed (Arundo donax) while enhancing and maintaining recreational access.   Also mentioned is the interpretive kiosk at the Main Street Bridge,  National Recreation Trail status, pending mile marker installation, and recent progress on Matilija Dam.

The Friends of the Ventura River coalition has collectively made significant headway in recent years, and a key piece of our outreach has been the distribution of over 7,500 Ventura River Parkway Guide maps.  We just printed another run of these maps, which are once again available at the Patagonia retail store, Ventura Visitors Center, Real Cheap Sports, Open Air Bikes, The Ventura Bike Depot, the City of Ventura Parks & Recreation department, the Ojai Visitors Center and the Mob Shop!
This printing was made possible through sponsorships from Patagonia, The Ventura Visitors Bureau and BioResource Consultants in Ojai.

In the news: 

Plans for Ventura River Parkway, a route of trails from Ventura to Ojai, move along

On the web: 



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Elwha site visit 2016

This summer I had the opportunity to visit the Elwha River, my first time back since the Elwha Science Symposium and the Celebrate Elwha festival back in 2011.
The former Elwha dam site, June 2016
Standing above the former  Elwha dam site, faint clues of the structure are still visible across the river on the left abutment.  Unfortunately some exposed steel remains in the river channel, resulting in the closure of all boating trips through the former dam site.  A sign upstream warns of the danger and indicates a mandatory portage over the ridge.  My hopes of floating the restored river will have to wait...
Upstream of the former Elwha dam site, June 2016
This is just a quarter of a mile above the dam site.  Vegetation has grown in areas previously inundated by the reservoir, clearly delineated by the light green line below the older evergreen trees.  Most notable is the vast amount of sediment that remains on either side of the meandering river channel.  This confirms predictions that not all of the sediment trapped in the reservoirs will be moved downstream.  These new river channels will continue to adapt to future floods and slowly transport sediment out to the coast.

Elwha river delta, after dam removal June 2016

Revisiting the beaches at the mouth of the Elwha was eye opening.  Where piecemeal seawalls once protected property threatened by a receding shoreline, a 300 yard sandy delta now extends out into Puget Sound.  Numerous sea birds gathered along the river and shoreline benefiting from the renewed ecosystem, and small, clean waves hinted of the renewed surf potential.

Port Angeles
One unexpected benefit that was evident to me was the change to the little town of Port Angeles.  In 2011, this seemed like a small town with little to offer other than the port and ferry.  Since then small tourist shops and a variety of  trendy coffee shops, restaurants, and other businesses have popped up.  It seems that dam removal has been good for the local economy too!

 On this blog:

Elwah Science Symposium

Watching the dams come down - Elwha beaches


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Matilija Dam poster update

The Matilija Coalition has updated the poster describing the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration project.  The primary change is in the sediment management required for dam removal, which has been greatly simplified through using "natural transport" rather than expensive mechanical means to re-establish the stream bed upstream. 

Thanks to Cynthia Hartley for design, and photographers Raymond Powers, Jim Martin, and Matt Stoecker!

The previous version is here: 

Matilija Dam poster



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Surfers Point Phase 2

Local news story outlines effort to move forward with Phase 2 of the Surfers Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project:

"Though recognized nationally for what it accomplished, returning the beach to its natural state rather than installing artificial and ultimately ineffective barriers, the project didn't face its first real test until Dec. 11.
It "reacted perfectly the way it was supposed to," said Paul Jenkin of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which was heavily involved in the first phase. "It means that the beach adapted to the large waves."  The dunes and vegetation absorbed the energy of the waves while trapping the sand.
"It's a dynamic beach that comes and goes with the seasons. The ocean is able to give and take," Jenkin said.

Last week, the fairgrounds board agreed to be part of a working group that includes the city, BEACON, Surfrider and others to discuss the second phase.  Fairgrounds Chief Executive Director Barbara Quaid said getting everyone at the table was a good idea and allowed for discussions including "what goes into it, where's the money coming from, how does that affect the city, how does it affect the fairgrounds."

It's too early to say what could happen, but Quaid said the area in the first phase did what it was supposed to do and more.  "That was a tough decision to change the usage of our property," said Quaid, referring to the fairgrounds' lost parking lot. "But we knew at the time the board made the right decision. It was the right thing to do for the community."

Surfers Point plan: phase 1 included relocation of bike path and the west end of fairgrounds parking  - phase 2 includes relocation of remaining bike path and parking area 

Surfers Point plan: phase 2 includes relocation of bike path and remaining fairgrounds parking

In the news:  VC Star
On this blog: Surfers Point

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Surfer Magazine cover

Surfer magazine cover shot of Ventura point...  a winter to remember!

Surfers' Point Jan 11, 2016photo: APJenkin

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Watching the dams come down - Elwha beaches

Elwha River delta following dam removal, 2015
Elwha River delta at the start of dam removal in 2012

Elwha River in Washington state has received a lot of attention as the river restores itself following removal of two dams in 2011-2012.  The most dramatic changes are visible at the rivermouth, where previously eroding beaches have been replaced by a rapidly growing delta.

Check out this 360 view of rivermouth

Ventura Rivermouth following the floods of 1969
Studies estimate that the removal of Matilija Dam will increase sand and cobble
 delivery to the coast by 30% over 50 years

In the news:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ventura River - Instream Flow program

The Ventura River has been identified as one of five priority streams in the California Water Action Plan (WAP.)  The State Water Board and CDFW are currently working to identify potential actions that may be taken to enhance and establish instream flow for anadromous fish in these five priority streams.


The streams identified for the WAP effort are primarily coastal streams where the survival of salmon and steelhead (together referred to as salmonids) are of particular concern. Of the 22 distinct groups of anadromous salmon and steelhead in California, 13 (59%) are in danger of extinction and are in need of enhanced protection.

The Ventura River provides an opportunity to advance state water management policy by integrating groundwater and surface water management for the first time.  On March 28, 2016, a team representing the State and Regional Water Resources Control Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife toured the watershed.

Instream flow team at Robles Diversion fish passage

More info:  State Water Resources Control Board
                   California Department of Fish and Wildlife

On this blog: http://www.venturariver.org/search/label/groundwater