Monday, May 28, 2012

Picnic at the River

Free Picnic to Reconnect Community to the Ventura River

Date: Saturday, June 9, 2012 from 11AM-1PM.

Ventura, CA (May 24, 2012).  The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy has recently joined with Friends of the Ventura River to host a free community picnic and present information about the Ventura River Parkway plan on June 9, 2012 from 11am-1pm at the Ventura River, north of the Main Street Bridge.  The plan was developed by the State Coastal Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land with design help from Cal Poly Pomona’s Studio 606 and lays out a vision for the future of the Ventura River that includes public access to potential parks, trails and open-space while improving water quality and wildlife habitat.  The Parkway will provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and become a draw for tourists, boosting the local economy.    

The public is invited to take a self-guided tour through informational exhibits extolling the various benefits of the parkway plan, while enjoying a free sack lunch.  The theme of the event is “reconnecting to the river in our backyard” and the Tortilla Flats Archive will present photos and an oral history on historic uses of this neglected recreational resource.  As part of the plan, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy has preserves that can potentially be used as trail connections between the Ventura River Trail and Emma Wood State Beach. Several local environmental groups have partnered to illustrate the benefits to wildlife habitat and the health of the watershed. Children can participate in water quality experiments with the Stream Team. Local business organizations are excited to promote the economic opportunities that other successful parkway projects have brought to their communities. Pro-active public use of open space in the river would also make it less attractive as a site for illegal camping and several local social services agencies that address this issue will be there to demonstrate their support for the project. 

          A vast coalition of partners has gathered under the Friends of the Ventura River umbrella including the State Coastal Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, California State Parks, National Parks Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program, Coastal Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), Environmental Defense Center, Tortilla Flats Archive, Project Understanding, Downtown Ventura Organization, Downtown Ventura Partners, Ventura Chamber of Commerce, Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau, Ventura Audubon, Ventura Water as well as the City of Ventura’s Community Development, Environmental Sustainability and Parks and Recreation departments, Ventura Social Services Task Force, Ventura Surfrider, Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, Ventura Citizens for Hillsides Preservation, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy.  Funding for the event is provided through a generous grant from Patagonia.

          The picnic and info fair will be held along the riverside north of the Main Street Bridge in the same area where the yearly California Lutheran University river clean-ups are staged (see attached map).   Volunteers will guide guests down the levee trail to the river.  Parking is available in the Main Street Lot across from the Peking St. bus stop, with overflow available on Olive St, but as always please consider walking, biking, taking the bus or carpooling. 

Please join us to learn more about this exciting opportunity to reclaim our river!

For more information call Lee Sherman, Ventura Hillsides Conservancy Development & Volunteer Coordinator at 805-643-8044.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

UCSB Bren School project

The Watershed Council meeting this week included a presentation on a recently initiated project to develop a water budget for the Ventura River watershed by a team from the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management:

Sustainable Water Use in the Ventura River Watershed

A group of six graduate students from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara has initiated a year-long master’s thesis on sustainable water use in the Ventura River watershed. The team plans on taking an interdisciplinary approach towards identifying opportunities for economically and environmentally beneficial water management strategies within the watershed. In order to meet these goals the group plans to create a comprehensive water budget for the Ventura River watershed utilizing the WEAP (Water Evaluation and Planning System) Model. This water budget will combine data from existing groundwater and surface water models with economic analysis for use in evaluating different water management scenarios.

The WEAP Model ( is a software tool that assists resource planners with integrated water management. It has been used successfully to evaluate water quality and quantity issues worldwide, at a variety of scales, by a number of agencies and planners.

Once the model is set up, it can be used to evaluate the effects of changes in climate, water use, and management practices such as:

Reusing urban greywater for irrigation and other non-potable uses in order to increase water-use efficiency.

Installing decentralized wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Ojai to decrease energy costs associated with water transport.

Implementing stormwater BMPs to improve water quality and to help achieve TMDLs for algae.

Using the WEAP Model, the team intends to identify easily-implementable projects which may result in significant savings in water, energy, and money throughout the watershed.

Improving the understanding of the water-budget by clearly mapping out the complex interconnections between various water uses and sources within the watershed is a necessary step towards integrated watershed management.

The team intends to create a tool that will be useful for water users and resource planners within the Ventura River watershed. In order to achieve this, it is critical that suggestions, comments, and criticisms from the community be considered at every step.

Please do not hesitate to contact the project team via email at:

The team members are: Ryan Gardner, Naheed Iqbal, Austin Love, Brenda Ponton, Jake Sahl, Dan Yocum.  The Faculty Sponsor is Dr. Arturo Keller, Professor, School of Environmental Science and Management University of California Santa Barbara

More on the current Bren School Projects here:


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Surfers Point - sand dunes

The City of Ventura delivered sand at Surfers Point taken from Pierpont Beach starting on April 10th.  It took only a few days, between the rains, to bring in the estimated 3,500 cubic yards of sand to fill the beach.

Sand being excavated from Pierpont for trucking to Surfers' Point

The west end of Surfers' Point looking east - during sand delivery

This time-lapse video compresses a week of work into less than 20 seconds. You can see the sand delivery, with breaks between rain storms, followed by the rapid grading of the piles into longitudinal ridges that run parallel to the shoreline. 

The City is hiring coastal experts to finalize a restoration plan, and the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has offered funding and a volunteer workforce to complete the necessary seeding, planting, and stabilization of the sand to prevent winds from inundating the new bike path.  

This work is anticipated to be scheduled in the Fall 2012.  If you are interested in contributing to this project please e-mail Surfrider Volunteer Coordinator:

The middle of Surfers' Point looking east -  imported sand has been graded into longitudinal ridges

The east end of Surfers' Point looking west - after sand delivery and grading

The west end of Surfers' Point looking west - before sand grading

The west end of Surfers' Point looking west - after sand grading

Surfers' Point from the West - after sand delivery, before grading

Surfers' Point from the West - after sand grading
(note exposed edge of the buried cobble berm)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ojai Quarry approved

On April 17, just a few days after an April 12 hearing, the Ventura County Planning Department approved the Ojai Quarry's operations.  This followed months of wrangling over repeated violations of the County's Conditional Use Permit and the State Mining and Reclamation Act.

The renewed permit approves the reclamation plan, expansion of the mining operations to include the use of a rock crusher, and expanded hours of operation.  The 1995 Environmental Impact Report was amended to accommodate these changes, stating that there is no impact to the endangered steelhead due to silt basins that have been installed as mitigation.  The southern steelhead was added to the endangered species list in 1997.

The County received comment letters from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD), the Environmental Coalition, and Ojai Stop the Trucks! Coalition.

Despite the relatively dry winter, Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper continues to document impacts to North Fork Matilija Creek.  These impacts are clearly illustrated in this video:

In the news:

November 18, 2010
Quarry owner fails to get violations overturned

April 11, 2011
Ojai Quarry owner drops appeal

October 27, 2011:      
County proposes to shut Ojai mine after owner refuses to pay up 

December 13, 2011:  
Mosler quarry heads for showdown before county Planning Commission

December 15, 2011:  
Ventura County Planning Commission delays decision on quarry near Ojai

January 10, 2012:      
State deals business blow to Ojai Quarry

February 20, 2012:  
 Regulators, quarry operator moving toward deal 

February 23, 2012:  
In Ojai, quarry owner expects to be back in business

April 12, 2012:
Ojai Quarry owner presents cleanup plans

More info:
Stop the Trucks Coalition: