Reconnecting with the River

The  Friends of the Ventura River Saturday, June 9 ‘Picnic at the River’ event introduced members of the public to the Ventura River Parkway Plan as well as many of the community & governmental organizations working toward making the plan a reality.

Attendees enjoyed a healthy picnic lunch and a short walk to the river, which included a demonstration on water quality testing and measuring stream flow rate by a member of the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper Stream Team.

In addition to showcasing the Parkway Vision, information was available on steelhead recovery efforts, the economic & recreational benefits a river parkway would provide to Ventura, the impacts of pollutants on the watershed using the city’s Enviroscape demonstration & social services efforts to assist people living in the riverbed to move into the community.

Attendees offered ideas to build upon a trails plan being developed under a technical grant with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program.

The Tortilla Flats Reunion & Mural Project engaged people with wonderful photos of how past residents of Ventura enjoyed the Ventura River when the river was just a short walk from their neighborhood, long before Highway 33 cut the community off from its river.

Event Sponsors & Participants

Illegal Camping — solving the problem

Illegal Camping in the Ventura RiverThe need to reduce pollution in the river has brought the homeless situation to the forefront. Property owners in the riverbed will be faced with large fines for failure to meet trash reduction standards set for the Ventura River, much of which is caused by homeless encampments in the riverbed.

At the April 24, Friends meeting, Rob Orth from Project Understanding gave a presentation on working with the homeless to bring them out of the riverbed. And on May 2, Peter Brown from the City of Ventura met with Friends representatives at the river to explain how he is working with Project Understanding & other organizations in conjunction with the Ventura police department to guide the homeless to available assistance and clear homeless encampments from the riverbed.

Turning Point, the Salvation Army, & Project Understanding have joined forces in a project named “Homeless to Home.”  The goal is to house as many of the homeless as possible.  There are many obstacles to overcome as each homeless person in the riverbed has different issues to overcome to rejoin the community.  Project Understanding works with one person at a time to address their issues and concerns.

Taylor Ranch has made great strides in removing invasive Arundo donax (giant reed) from their property in the riverbed.  And the County and City recently cleared arundo from their smaller properties along the lower Ventura River levee. The arundo grows so densely that it provides privacy between encampments in the riverbed.  Removal of the arundo makes the riverbed much less inviting as a place to establish camp.

Friends of the Ventura River continues to work toward the goal of creating a River Parkway, restoring native habitat, creating trails, picnic areas, and interpretive signs and other features so that members of the community can once again enjoy their river.

Friends Meeting April 24, 2012

A meeting of the Friends of the Ventura River will be held on:
TUESDAY April 24, 2012 at PATAGONIA FIREHOUSE BUILDING from 4:30-6:30pm.

Directions: The meeting will take place on the 2nd floor of Patagonia’s Firehouse building, in the Grand Room.

The Firehouse is the tall building closest to Main St, address: 280 W. Main St. Enter Patagonia’s campus from Main St. and park anywhere in our lots (the lot at the corner of Main and Olive is most likely to have space available — all parking lots will remain unlocked until after this meeting is over). Enter the Firehouse on the south side of the building (furthest from Main St.)- we will have someone at the door directing you upstairs.

For Late Arrivals:There will be someone at the door until 4:45pm, if you arrive after that call one of these cell numbers to be let in.(If you think you will may be late, bring phone &  numbers —we can also post this sheet on the door.)

Kathy Bremer: 805 901-6415; Carol Lindberg: 805 850-5430; Claudia Armann: 805 340-0223

Agenda:

Sign in sheet / Brief round table introductions

Old Business:

  • Jan 20th meeting with City & County WPD reps regarding public access on levee and encroachment permit process. Work continues on this process-short update.
  • Work continues with Patrick Johnston and the NPS RTCA grant –work group is making good progress laying out scope, goals and work list for project.
  • Work continuing on Website– nice improvements have been incorporated.

New Business:

  1. Presentation by Lee Sherman about VHC Willoughby property acquisition.
  2. *Rescheduled due to conflict* Bruce Smith (retired County Planner): FOVR should be aware of the County update of a grading ordinance that could lessen permit requirements fo non-devloping grading (like oil field or ag grading…) that could lead to an increase in sedimentation in local creeks and rivers.
  3. Discuss and get volunteers for River Parkway roll out event:
  4. Other business or announcements
  5. Next meeting date
  • Large Formal Presentation Wed. May 30th
  • Table/Booth for Parkway at VUSD Summerfest Event on Avenue June 2
  • Community Event Picnic/BBQ in River on County Property June 9

6.   Walking tour of Willoughby property (behind Patagonia between Main St.                and the 101 Bridge).

Adjournment no later than 6:45 Thank you everyone for staying involved!

Friends Meeting Agenda for Nov. 17, 2011

THE FRIENDS OF THE VENTURA RIVER COALITION MEETING

THURSDAY Nov. 17, 2011 at PATAGONIA FIREHOUSE BUILDING from 4:30-6:30p

Directions: The meeting will take place on the 2nd floor of Patagonia’s Firehouse building, in the Grand Room.

The Firehouse is the tall building closest to Main St, address: 280 W. Main St. Enter Patagonia’s campus from Main St. and park anywhere in our lots (the lot at the corner of Main and Olive is most likely to have space available — all parking lots will remain unlocked until after this meeting is over). Enter the Firehouse on the south side of the building (furthest from Main St.)- we will have someone at the door directing you upstairs.

For Late Arrivals:There will be someone at the door until 4:45pm, if you arrive after that call one of these cell numbers to be let in.(If you think you will may be late, bring phone &  numbers —we can also post this sheet on the door.)

Kathy Bremer: 805 901-6415; Carol Lindberg: 805 850-5430; Claudia Armann: 805 340-0223

Agenda:

Sign in sheet / Brief introductions (Welcome Kevin Clerici of Downtown Ventura Organization)

Old Business:

1. Friends sent formal letter to the City Council requesting their help to open the Ventura River levee (between Main and Stanley) as a public trail.  (Have put together petition to support letter.)

New Business:

1. Patrick Johnston of NPS Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance program will discuss grant for technical assistance with a trail connectivity for Ventura River Parkway.

2. Plan for when and where Feb 2011 Ventura River Parkway roll-out event which will include:

  • Studio 606 (Cal Poly Grad Dept that produced River Parkway Plan) presentation on parkway plan;
  • Talk about NPS RTCA grant and outreach for community input;
  • Tri-fold brochure release; and
  • Work toward (or announcement of) opening levee for public access.

3. Website now up. Short presentation to get Friends coalition groups comfortable to blog for their individual organization on Friends website (first posting could be as simple as a posting saying why group/individual is involved with Friends and reason to support Vta River Parkway). Designated bloggers could also send out an email announcement about the Friends blog/website to their group’s membership. This is one way we can help start the community buzz about the river parkway project. friendsofventurariver.org

4. Be Aware of Available Funding to aid Ventura River Parkway implementation:

  • President’s “Americas Great Outdoors Project” (US Secretary of Interior announced 2 rivers in California (San Joaquin and LA/San Gabriel) were funded in this year’s cycle.
  • IRWMP (Integrated Regional Water Management Plan) — Prop. 84: Fall 2012 next round of Implementation Grants (watershed planning, water quality improvement, habitat restoration, groundwater recharge, climate change/flood protection… implementation projects)    [State Guidelines for Climate Change coming out in Nov.]
  • Nearly 2 decades ago Congress required States to use a portion of their federal highway aid for “transportation enhancement” with 12 categories of projects from bike and walking paths to scenic overlooks and landscaping. Possible funding for Hwy 33 pedestrian overpass? Or levee path?

5. Other business or announcements:

Ojai Valley Land Conservancy has proposal for IRWMP Prop 84 Planning Grant to identify high priorities areas to protect habitat and offer recreational, flood management and water quality benefits. Surfrider has proposal to model and Urban Water Retrofit that could be used here and in other areas. (Nov. 22 VRWC Mtg.)

(Just FYI and relevant to climate change: Norma Camacho of County Watershed Protection District explained to Ventura River Watershed Council that an “ARC” storm is like an “atmospheric river” that develops in the South Pacific and then hits the West Coast.  In the late 1800’s  this kind of storm caused 60 days of rain– also our 1969 storm would qualify as an ARC storm.  A planned 2012 simulated drill will estimate damage if 2 of these ARC storms hit together. This coming drill might impress elected officials of the dire need to plan for climate change. USGS has interesting information on ARC storms.)

6. Next potential meeting date

Adjournment no later than 6:45   Thank you everyone for keeping up the good fight!

Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation Joins Friends of the Ventura River

Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation has joined Friends of the Ventura River to promote plans for a parkway along the lower reaches of the river.

The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy has already made great strides toward opening the upper stretches of the river to public recreation. Friends of the Ventura River hopes to be equally successful in opening up the lower river for public enjoyment.

Years ago the Ventura River was a centerpiece of the community.  Over the last 50 years decisions have been made, including the construction of Highway 33, which have cut the community off from the river, denying the public access to recreation on and around the river that was enjoyed by past generations.

Friends of the Ventura River will be working to restore public access to the river for hiking, biking, and picnicking, among other pursuits.

The Westside Community Plan includes the goal of improving recreational access to the river and the beach for all Venturans. Together we can make our river the centerpiece of our community once again.

If you (or a family member) have fond memories of growing up near the river and enjoying outdoor experiences at the river, we’d like to hear your story. Please share a blog entry here.