Monday, June 15, 2020

Restoring Flows to the Ventura River - Webinar

On June 11, Ben Pitterle provided an excellent overview and update on Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper's actions to restore flows to the Ventura River.  The webinar is now on YouTube:


More information and videos are on the Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper website.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Covid crush

The global pandemic led to closures of beaches and trails around the world.  But differing levels of enforcement in neighboring jurisdictions led to unintended consequences.

The closure of beaches and trails in LA County resulted in significant overcrowding in Ventura County.  This prompted Ventura County to close beach parking up and down the coast, and jurisdictions such as Conejo Open Space District to close their trails.  This forced people further north.

Although beach parking was closed in the City of Ventura, beach access remained open.  Word travels quickly these days, and the crowds soon converged.

Crowds converge at C-St in Ventura with beach closures to the south, May 2, 2020
(Surfline webcam)

The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy's Ventura River Preserve, a relative unknown to out-of-towners, also quickly became a popular hot spot.   Overcrowding on weekends became such a problem that they too ultimately had to close trailheads on weekends starting May 15.

OVLC preserves have been experiencing an unprecedented high level of use resulting in significant resource management issues.

In an attempt to stay open for the past two weekends, OVLC took the extraordinary step of hiring outside security to remind folks of preserve rules and try to manage the crowds. While this has helped, streambank habitats and water quality are still being noticeably harmed. Visitors are trampling vegetation, disturbing the streambed, and have left mountains of trash.

Unfortunately, these issues leave us no choice but to close the Ventura River Preserve Trailheads (Oso, Riverview, and Old Baldwin Road) for the remainder of the month of May, Fridays – Mondays.

If one thing became more clear than ever, outdoor access is important, and even more during the pandemic.  With layoffs and families stuck inside with all beaches and trails closed within the metropolis to our south, Ventura County has been the closest escape.

In the news:

Patchwork of jurisdictions and closures add confusion to beach, park access
Ventura County closes Foster Park over crowds and illegal parking; cars clog Highway 150
Authorities respond to gunshot victim in Matilija Canyon
Coronavirus: Some call for parking restrictions after crowds slam local hiking trail
Trail-goers urged to avoid Wildwood this weekend as crowds, problems persist
Coronavirus: The latest on parking lot closures at Santa Monica Mountains parks, trails
Governor singles out Orange County beaches, spares Ventura County from closures