Wetlands experiment at
Oxnard's Ormond Beach
raises restoration hopes
Wetlands in a box
They called an early phase the Chia Pet experiment. Now, it's being kicked up a notch, to "wetlands in a box." Both nicknames refer to serious if charmingly small-scale science projects at Oxnard's wastewater recycling plant that will determine whether otherwise useless reject water can help restore wetlands habitat."For me, this is like the last glowing coal of a really good idea," said Doug McPherson, environmental specialist with the U.S. Reclamation Bureau's Southern California office. The bureau is helping pay for Oxnard's water recycling facility and will do research at the wetlands demonstration project. Wetlands have for decades been used around the world to help clean stormwater and wastewater, he said, but Oxnard's pending experiment to treat briny concentrate from the reverse osmosis process is unusual perhaps unique. "This is the only one I know of," McPherson said. Ventura County Star 200912191755
The beautiful problem
FOR THE LAST 17 YEARS, Walter Fuller has spent most of his days in his informal office in a steel hipping container that is outfitted with shelves for birding books and official reports, a desk and a couch, and is situated at the western end of Oxnard's Arnold Road. This is the gateway to the south side of Ormond Beach, a sandy expanse well-known to surfers and birders and an astonishing variety of coastal wildlife, but little-known to the outside world. Fuller loves birds and animals of all sorts, and once considered a career in the Forest Service, but in his maturity he has found his own kind of peace as the informal gatekeeper and watchman for the area, protecting both the cars of visitors who park in the lot, and the birds including two endangered species who live out in the dunes nearby. "I'm the gatekeeper at one spot, and the property caretaker for the area, and it's a big property!" he laughs, referring to the roughly two-mile stretch of white sand and dunes between Port Hueneme to the north and the Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, to the south. Ventura County Reporter 20120126
Plans for Ormond Beach, wetlands lack cohesion
A bureaucratic bog
Carpeted with sod farms that border aging industrial buildings, a creaky power plant and the Halaco Superfund cleanup site, Ormond Beach is a world away from the clean streets of Copenhagen. But the debate surrounding climate change and rising sea levels at the United Nations summit over the past two weeks might have more bearing on this corner of Oxnard than anywhere else in Ventura County. With the land rising to no more than about a dozen feet above sea level in some spots, the area is vulnerable to the most conservative state estimates of a 4-foot rise in ocean levels over the next 100 years. "It's not a matter of if," said local activist Larry Godwin. "It's a matter of how fast and how high." Ventura County Star 200912191755
Photos courtesy Alan Sanders
Since the founding of our nation, the area now containing the State of California has lost 91% of its wetlands. Here in Oxnard we personally experience the harm done with our "years of the spiders, the flies and the gnats" Some bird species that normally visit us skipped those years, or were driven away from overcrowding by other species.
As we continue to overpopulate our state, it is imperative that we restore what wetlands we can. If we fail, we do so at our children's and their children's peril.
These pages try to explain and to prove that assertion.
Fuller's Report Special Birds
Seen At Ormond Beach:
Northern Fulmar, California Condor (reported seen feeding on a seal carcass), Snowy Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Virginia Rail, Peregrine Falcon, White Ibis, Egrets, Great Blue Heron, Black Rail, Western Grebe, Surf Scoters, Black Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Belted Kingfisher, Black Crowned Herons (seen arguing with each other), Red Tailed Hawks, Trumpeter Swans!, White-Tailed Kites, Bald Eagle Fledgling! (seen fishing in the drain between the Perkins Rd. parking lot and the wetlands), three (3!) Golden Plovers, Eared Grebes, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and Ruddy Ground Dove. The last three were seen by Auduboners at Ormond Beach and are firsts in these parts. Also, on June 14, an informal count at Ormond netted 31 Snowy Plover nests and 48 Least Tern nests.
explaining the importance of Oxnard's Ormond Beach Wetlands:
ORMOND: Wetland Wonderland [WMV, 139 MB]
Presentation to Planning Commission [WMV, 20 MB]
(These files will NOT stream on-line at least not for long!)
Oct. 13, 2005 [mp3 audio file - 6 min.]
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Oxnard Coastal Wetlands / Webmaster Originated 21 Feb 2001