Monday, August 31, 2009

Response to VCReporter article

The Ventura County Reporter inaccurately reported that the Manged Retreat Project could reduce parking and impair coastal access. This is my response:

RE: Beach restoration presents logistical problems for Surfers Point

Your article By Paul Sisolak 08/27/2009 incorrectly portrays the beach restoration project at Surfers' Point as impacting coastal access. This is unfortunate, as the project was designed specifically to ensure continued beach access. In fact, although there are almost unlimited parking spaces in the adjacent fairgrounds, beach access has always been one of the primary issues regulated by the Coastal Commission. According to the plans approved for the first phase of the project, only the upper portion of the existing beach parking lot will be removed, most of which is currently unused due to the damages caused by erosion more than a decade ago. During this phase there will actually be more parking than there is currently, since the new parking area in the fairgrounds dirt lot will be improved for daily use in addition to the remainder of the current beach parking. The Coastal Commission permit also requires that all work must be done during the winter season to avoid the ‘peak’ summer season and annual County Fair events.

The Surfers' Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project has been designed to undo the mistake made 20 years ago when the shoreline was graded and filled to provide for a bike path and parking lot. This was approved at the time, despite objections from locals who had witnessed the previous failed bike path and understood the dynamics of this beach formed by the Ventura River and shaped by large winter swells. Managed retreat will not only restore the natural ability of the beach to adapt to the forces of nature, but also give back to Ventura a beautiful beach by the rivermouth as envisioned by our benefactor EP Foster in the early 1900’s.

For more details and a diagram of the plan, please see:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Volunteer cleanup

THANKS to the volunteers came out on Saturday to assist with the cleanup of the paintball site.

According to the city's project manager:

"What an excellent turn out with major progress last Saturday. There were 23 on the sign in sheet.

By the end of Tuesday we may have hauled a majority of the materials away. The tree house will be removed by Rick Bisaccia, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. County Work Release Program will be there again assisting the City's Distribution equipment operators with the loading operations.

The remaining challenge is the paintballs. We have an industrial truck mounted vacuum that might work well."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Editorial: Restoring a coastal gem

Star Editorial: Restoring a coastal gem

Beach project gets the OK

Saturday, August 15, 2009

2009 steelhead surveys

August 11-14, 2009

For the past two years, the Matilija Coalition has supported field surveys of the Ventura River steelhead population with financial support from Patagonia, Inc. and CA Dept of Fish and Game. (Also see Last year's survey.)

The Steelhead Population and Habitat Assessment in the Ventura River / Matilija Creek Basin studies are part of ongoing research effort to provide baseline data of the current population and advance the understanding of this species, which is endangered in Southern California. Although the recent news has not been positive (see steelhead-die-as-river-dries-up,) this annual monitoring has seen continued productivity within the watershed. Past reports are online at and the recent data will be available once the reports are completed.

After snorkling with the TRPA biologists last week, I returned with local biologist Matt Stoecker and his camera equipment to document the fish we are seeing this year... These pictures are courtesy (and copyright) of Matt.

If you would like to help support this program, this year's Patagonia 'Salmon Run' event along the Ventura River will benefit the Matilija Coalition and the ongoing steelhead monitoring.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Steelhead die as river dries up

According to today's article in the Ojai Valley News:

After a federal agency failed to launch a rescue effort last month, at least 54 juvenile steelhead trout died in dry pools in the upper Ventura River near the $9-million Robles fish ladder, which was ordered built by the U.S. government to help save the endangered fish from extinction.

This comes after a rescue attempt earlier this summer relocated a dozen downstream migrating fish back upstream. The May news article stated that a federal permit would be completed within a month, which would have provided the opportunity to rescue the 54 fish that perished in July.

See the complete article here:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Chalk this up to one of those crazy ideas that just might make sense...

This idea was introduced to me several years ago by a somewhat eccentric Ojai resident. Seems that now it is catching on in many areas of the West...

More here:

Castor canadensis, believe it or not, is a time shifter. The humble, hardworking rodent, through its dams and ponds, can extend the release of water late into summer, saturating the ground and healing watersheds. It has the power to re-create the primordial, wetter West that existed for millennia -- a West we just missed seeing.
"Restoration of the beaver is restoration of a landscape we don't have a cultural connection to," O'Brien says, "because they largely were trapped out."


Beaver in California:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Paintball Cleanup

Paintball Cleanup on the Ventura River
Saturday, August 22nd, 9am-12pm

We need volunteers to help cleanup a huge illegal dump site at an area along the Ventura River used for paintball battles that has recently been shut down by the City.

Volunteers will help collect hundreds of pounds of recyclable materials and paint balls as a part of a larger effort to remediate this site. This project is in partnership with the City of Ventura and Ventura Surfrider Foundation.

When: Saturday, August 22nd, 9 am-12pm

Where: From Hwy 101 take Hwy 33 North. Exit on Casitas Vista Road and turn left (towards Foster Park). Drive approximately ½ mile (over bridge) and veer right on Santa Ana Rd. Drive approximately one mile to cleanup area on right (will be posted).

What to bring: Drinks, gloves, and trash bags provided. Please bring sunscreen or a hat and dress appropriately. Sturdy shoes and long pants recommended.

To RSVP and for questions contact Ben Pitterle at

Background: Early this summer, we were contacted by locals concerned about the growing problem in the riverbed. After visiting the site and witnessing the trash and debris, we learned that this is within the City of Ventura's water supply protection area, located just upstream from the wells at Foster Park. We notified the city, who took prompt action to investigate and coordinate cleanup activities. The area is now posted against trespass and paintball activities have stopped.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Surfers' Point moves forward

The City of Ventura this week gave the go-ahead for the Surfers' Point Managed Shoreline Retreat project. The passage of the state budget allows the previously earmarked grant funding to be released in time to break ground this year. Construction of the first phase of the project should begin in November 2009.

More info here:

Ventura OKs plans to move bike path, replace water pipes

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 By Kevin Clerici

The Ventura City Council this week approved three major improvement projects, including the first phase of a multimillion-dollar plan to relocate a decaying bike path and restore the beach near Surfers Point and the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

...Coastal watchdogs, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders have been working on a campaign to relocate and replace a crumbling bike path along Ventura’s coastline for 15 years.

Construction of the initial $3 million phase, to be paid with one-time grants, could begin in November or December. The restoration effort has been hailed as a model environmental approach to stabilize and restore 1,800 feet of beach near the fairgrounds.

The project will relocate the bike and pedestrian trail and parking lot on the ocean side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland toward the fairgrounds. Once the path and parking lot are relocated, several tons of cobblestone will be spread at water’s edge, adding to the rocky shoreline. Sand then would be laid over the cobblestones to help restore the area to a more natural beach habitat and prevent future erosion.

A portion of Shoreline Drive will be shortened as part of the project. The second, unfunded phase of the project would include a new parking lot and picnic areas at the fairgrounds.

The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved a necessary construction permit in 2006.

“This is a groundbreaking project,” in using nature’s own patterns to protect the beach, said Lawrence Manson, who helped create the Surfrider Foundation’s Ventura County chapter.

Initially projected to cost a few million dollars, construction costs have ballooned to $9 million because of rising materials costs and added public amenities.

Because the grant funds must be spent by the end of the year or possibly be forfeited, supporters explored a phased approach.

Ventura was unsuccessful in its bid for $5 million in federal stimulus funds to help complete the project.

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece in December put the beach restoration plan on a list of “shovel-ready” proposals it dubbed as unworthy for federal stimulus funds. Other requests it said were frivolous included $1 million to upgrade the Los Angeles County Convention Center elevated “catwalk” with cameras and lighting; $350,000 for an Albuquerque, N.M., fitness center; $94 million for a parking garage at the Orange Bowl in Miami; $3.1 million for a swimming pool in Tulsa; and $80,000 for a tennis facility in Santa Barbara.

Councilman Brian Brennan said the editorial’s authors likely didn’t take the time to understand the Ventura plan.

“This may be frivolous sounding in name, but this is a well-respected project,” he said, noting that since the editorial was published, coastal cities in North Carolina and other states have called Ventura wanting to learn more.