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.