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Friends of the Ventura River

Late Summer 2013 News

from the Ventura River watershed

The Ventura River Parkway

Friends September Meeting -  
Monday, SEPTEMBER 30, 2013, 4:30PM
at Patagonia's Grand Conference room in the Firehouse.

Friends of the Ventura River will be holding an eventful September meeting which will include a recap of our accomplishments over the last two years under the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance grant with Patrick Johnston.  Our Spanish language parkway map is ready to print.  The print funder for the Spanish map is the Heal Zone under the Kaiser Health Systems grant to the Westside community to promote healthy lifestyles through outdoor activity, healthy food choices and convenient access to both.  

We will discuss opportunities in various sections of the river carefully mapped with Cynthia Hartley's expert GIS skills.  We also plan to show slides of ongoing work along the river by Ventura Hillsides Conservancy and Ojai Valley Land Conservancy as well as show a powerpoint depicting current dry conditions in the Ventura River Watershed.  Two films are planned.  One is the CAPS video of the Ventura RIver Clean-up Day and the second is a submission to Ventura Water's Water: Take-1 film contest, called "A Watershed Fairytale."  Patagonia, a Friends supporter and member is a sponsor of the "Water:  Take-1" film contest.

This meeting will recap accomplishments, discuss current projects and future goals and we hope will be the perfect send-off to thank Patrick for his expert assistance on our project over the past two years.

National Recreational Trail Status
Friends of the Ventura RIver is working with the City of Ventura and the County on an application for National Recreational Trail Status for the Ventura River Parkway Trail.   We are currently working on the application which is due by November 1.  Learn more at our Sep. 30 meeting and online.

Maps - The  Ventura River Parkway Map is now available at outdoor retailers, visitor centers, City of Ventura Parks & Rec department and local bike shops in Ventura and Ojai. More info:

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy
Willoughby Preserve - The California Conservation Corps (CCC) recently completed a $50,759 in-kind project, removing and treating approx 3 acres of Arundo at the Willoughby Preserve.  Resource Conservation Partners began applying herbicide at the Willoughby Preserve to take over where the CCC's work left off.   This will prevent regrowth and maintain all the hard work that our volunteer and labor crews have put into Arundo removal over the past few years.

Big Rock Preserve - The C.R.E.W. (Concerned Resource & Environmental Workers) continues removing Arundo biomass at the Big Rock Preserve – they have contributed approx $17K in-kind labor so far this year ($25K last fall).  Resource Conservation Partners began applying herbicide at the Big Rock Preserve where the C.R.E.W.'s work left off. 

Climate Adaptation Grant - A project team (Surfrider, VHC, Coastal Restoration Consultants, New West Land, ESA-PWA) submitted a Climate Ready Grant proposal to the CA Coastal Conservancy, focusing on how the estuary and surrounding coastal area may better accommodate sea-level rise and intensified flooding.

Volunteer efforts - Monthly volunteer events at Willoughby and Big Rock are chipping away at the Arundo, recreational-trail-blazing and keeping the properties free of trash.  To volunteer, contact Lee Sherman, Volunteer Coordinator at    

Learn more about the Conservancy's work at

Ojai Valley Land Conservancy
Ventura River Preserve - The week of September 16th OVLC will begin the excavation stage of the Rice Creek Re-Alignment and Restoration Project at our Ventura River Preserve. This work puts the Rice Creek back into its historic route from which it was diverted back in the 1920’s. The old historic channel has already been planted with about 9,000 native plants in anticipation of the re-route. Once excavation is complete, we’ll be adding another 4-5,000 native plants to the site to stabilize the stream corridor and begin creating stream habitat.

Ojai Meadows - At the Ojai Meadows Preserve, we will be seeding 20 acres of the Preserve with native grasses and wildflowers as part of the Ojai Meadows Preserve Ecological Restoration and Flood Control Project. This work is the final stage of the long-term project to establish oak savanna habitats on the Preserve uplands. Portions of the site will also be planted into a dense oak woodland habitat. This will involve the planting of hundreds of oak seedlings on the back ½ of the Preserve, along with some companion plants.

Fox & Stewart Canyon - Last month we partnered with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) and the C.R.E.W. to remove over 200 Mexican fan palms from the Fox Canyon Barranca and Stewart Canyon Creek. This was a continuation of the work begun in Libbey park by the Ojai Valley green Coalition, C.R.E.W. and BRC (BioResource Consultants).  The CCC did the physical work and C.R.E.W. worked on landowner permissions and access. The OVLC acted as the project sponsor for the CCC and provided funds for the disposal of waste material.  

Climate Adaptation Grant -The OVLC recently applied for a Climate Adaptation Grant from the Coastal Conservancy to continue Arundo removal on a portion of San Antonio Creek at Camp Comfort and the OVLC’s San Antonio Creek Preserve.

Find out about opportunities to volunteer with OVLC.
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
 Santa Barbara Channelkeeper's attempts to work with the Ojai Quarry to prevent runoff from the quarry property into North Fork Matilija Creek ended without resolution, forcing Channelkeeper and the Environmental Defense Center to bring suit to halt the polluting runoff which threatens the creek's and Ventura River's endangered steelhead trout.  The suit was brought under the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Channelkeeper has monitored water quality in the Ventura River and its tributary creeks since about 2001.  In 2007, the group began testing near Ojai Quarry,  and found high levels of sediment downstream from the quarry. These findings were confirmed by state and federal agencies.

The Ventura River watershed is home to about 100 steelhead trout. Excess runoff increases turbidity of the water and threatens the steelhead and other aquatic life.

SBCK and EDC are seeking a court order instructing the quarry to implement anti-runoff measures including basins to capture rainwater and filtering the sediment from the water before it leaves the quarry property. 

Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project

Matilija Dam -  This topic included to keep you posted since the most-asked question by the public at the July 4th street fair was "when is Matilija Dam coming down?" No new news to report, but we're including the last update for anyone who missed it.  A subcommittee of the Technical Advisory Committee has selected a consultant team to develop a cost effective means for the removal of Matilija Dam. The studies will include analysis of notching the dam and other means are funded by the California Coastal Conservancy and administered by Ventura County Watershed Protection District.  A final contract is expected this fall, when a Design Oversight Group meeting will be scheduled to introduce the consultant team and the work plan.  More information.

Surfers' Point Managed Retreat Project - Ongoing maintenance is necessary to get the native plants and seeds that were distributed over the dune area established.   Stay tuned for future work days which will be listed on the city's volunteer opportunities website below.

Watershed Planning Progress:
Ventura River Watershed Management Plan 
Our Ventura River Watershed coordinator Lorraine Walter and her staff presented guidelines for organization of the Watershed Management Plan and are now embarked upon the job of writing the plan.  Much preparation has gone into laying the groundwork to get to the actual writing of the plan.  Mentioned above, Lorraine is presenting her Dry Conditions powerpoint at the Friends' Sep. 30 meeting.  See the maps that Lorraine has created of the Watershed to illustrate the features of the Watershed that will be addressed in the Plan.  Maps.

The Watershed Website now has videos about the Ventura River and Watershed online.  Watch watershed videos.

The next Council meeting is Oct. 3, 2013 at Oak View Community Center, 18 Valley Rd., Oak View from 6:00 to 8:30 pm.  Watch for upcoming evening meetings to be held at the Oak View Community Center.  Stay involved by noting future meeting dates of the Ventura River Watershed Council.

Related Water Projects - Ojai
On August 27, Ojai residents scored a resounding victory in the bid to regain local control of the city's water supply.  A majority of 87% of Ojai voters supported the takeover from Golden State Water, a for-profit corporation   accused of profiteering.  Ojai FLOW developed a strategy that included eminent domain takeover of the water company supported by a local bond measure.  Water management will be taken over by the Casitas Municipal Water Company which currently serves the majority of the Ojai Valley and part of Ventura and operates under the direction of a locally elected board.  Read more.
Related Water Projects - Ventura Water
Recently the City of Ventura Water Division (Ventura Water) presented a Comprehensive Water Resources Report which outlines a plan for more closely monitoring water supply and use by the various types of customers in the city.  It calls out a requirement for new development to bring water rights into the city to serve the development or pay an in lieu fee which will be used to purchase water or obtain other water resources.  Discussion of the in lieu fee proposal is being rescheduled to come before Ventura City Council on November 18, 2013

Ventura Water has also established a Water Rates Review Committee to consider the costs facing Ventura Water in the future and how best to tier rates to customers to encourage conservation.  The extraction and delivery of water in Ventura is a complex matter with many sources and many limitations.  How best to create an integrated water management solution to our water supply and demand is a huge challenge facing our community.  The sooner we tackle this complex problem, the more secure our water supply will be in the future.  See more about future meeting dates and the work of the Rate Advisory Committee.  

Ventura's 2013 Comprehensive Water Resources Report indicates that the current water supply is inadequate to meet the projected 2025 housing targets specified in the 2005 General Plan. (Figure 5-1 on page 5-3 is a graphical representation of demand versus supply.  Supply in high rainfall conditions is adequate, but supply in low rainfall conditions is insufficient.)
In addition, the quality of our groundwater on the East-end currently does not meet national standards. Expensive capital improvements for reverse osmosis (RO) treatment are proposed to improve water quality of the existing groundwater sources and treat wastewater for reinjection or reuse. 
Every potential option to expand our water supply is extremely costly with little guarantee to substantially increase our reliable supply of high quality water. Our contract for 10,000 AFY of state water cannot be realized without construction of extensive delivery infrastructure.  Since Southern California development has overburdened the system, in multiple dry years (which are a regular occurrence) cities with state water contracts can expect to receive only a small percentage of their contracted water allocation.
It is difficult to avoid these conclusions:
  •  water demand, supply and cost issues will have a limiting effect on the future growth and size of the City of San Buenaventura;
  •  the ability of the general population to financially support the proposed expensive Capital Improvement Plans is questionable;
  •  the City is approaching the point of diminishing returns on water system improvements and conservation measures.
Upcoming Volunteer Environmental Events -- September 2013
Coastal Clean-Up Day!  Mark your calendars
Beach Clean-Up Day will be held on SEPTEMBER 21, 2013 from 9am to Noon.  The City of Ventura is organizing clean-up of FIVE beaches in Ventura:  Marina Park, the Promenade, State Beaches, Harbor Cove, and Pierpont at the end of Seaward Avenue.  Sign up online and get instructions on where to meet at each beach.  Volunteer for this fun day of beautifying our beaches!

Ocean Friendly Gardens 
The City has partnered with Surfrider to implement a number of the Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) projects to help convert conventional lawns and water-intensive gardens to ocean friendly gardens that use less water and create less runoff into our streets that ends up in our ocean. 

The next OFG volunteer opportunity will be on SEPTEMBER 28, 2013 from 9am to 1pm at the Ventura Avenue Adult Center, 550 N Ventura Ave.,  Ventura, CA 93001.  Volunteer and learn how to transform your garden into an ocean friendly garden.  Sign up:


Friends of the Ventura River  is a coalition of community groups and individuals who recognize the need for the protection and enhancement of the Ventura River watershed to improve our quality of life and ensure our future sustainability. 

We invite you to visit our website at - this is a place for friends to post their ideas, concerns, and activities and provide for a community forum about the river in our backyard.  Stay tuned for a September meeting date which will  be listed on the HOME page of our website as soon as the date is set. 

Please contact Paul ( or Diane ( to find out how you or your organization can get involved!

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