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Ventura County, California

Updates from Ventura County Chapter—Protecting our local ocean and beaches from source to surf

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December 2, 2016

Stream Team Going from Monthly to Quarterly

Who tests your rivers?

Volunteers like you! Our chapter has long been supportive of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s Stream Team, which has monitored the water quality of the Ventura River for about 15 years.

The next testing date is this Saturday, December 3. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at the corner of Julian St. and W. Main St., across from the Patagonia firehouse. Contact Jenna with SB Channelkeeper at jennad@sbck.org and visit http://www.sbck.org/volunteer/ for more information.

Well over a decade’s worth of monthly water quality, flows, and use in the Ventura River watershed have been successfully documented by Stream Team. Armed with the knowledge gained, Stream Team is adopting a new schedule. Tomorrow’s collection will be the last monthly testing. Beginning in 2017, quarterly monitoring will be performed on the first Saturday of February, May, August, and November.

To explore the years’ worth of data collected by Stream Team volunteers and Channelkeeper staff, go to: http://www.sbck.org/current-issues/water-quality-monitoring/stream-team/ and select “View Data Portal”.

Our thanks to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper for doing this important work and sharing the data with the community.

November 30, 2016

California Coastal Commission Hearings in Ventura December 7, 8 and 9

The California Coastal Commission rotates their meeting location each month and for December they will be meeting at Ventura City Hallon December 7, 8 and 9.

We are looking for people to show up at the Coastal Commission hearing on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 8:45 a.m. to support enforcement of the Coastal Act! A precedent-setting item coming before the Commission has the potential to affect beach access throughout the state.

For the first time, the Commission’s enforcement staff is recommending the levying of administrative fines due to: 1.) the severity of the violation; 2.) the unwillingness of the violators to come to agreeable terms. The ability to levy fines was granted to the Commission in 2014 and has served as a deterrent over the time since – if the threat is shown to be empty, those illegally keeping the public from accessing the beach will have little reason to stop doing so. In this particular case, the homeowner illegally keeps the only vertical access to a three-mile beach in Malibu, making money off the home as a vacation rental that features – you guessed it – “a private beach” as an amenity.

We must ensure that enforcement of the Coastal Act is serious and supported – and that those who deny the public their rights do not prevail! Talking points and signs will be provided for those who need them. Even a simple statement along the lines of, “I’m with the Surfrider Foundation and ask that you support the recommendations of your enforcement staff to protect the public’s right to beach access in California,” will show that this is an issue we take very seriously. If you are interested or have any questions, please email bhickman@surfrider.org

October 5, 2016

Vote YES on Prop 67 in November!

After six years of advocacy to the California state legislature, a bill to ban plastic bags was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014. Unfortunately, due to the political maneuvering of the big plastics industry, the bill was stalled and will be put on the ballot as a referendum. The California voting public will now be asked to a reaffirm this bag ban legislation by voting YES on 67 this November.

Click Here to sign the pledge to Vote YES on 67 and share it with your friends and family to help finally ban disposable plastic shopping bags across California! Would you like to do more? Click here to check out the upcoming events and volunteer opportunities to promote the YES on 67 campaign for a statewide plastic shopping bag ban. On Monday Oct 17th we are hosting a fun phone banking event with food, drinks and prizes then on Thursday the 20th we will be handing out free reusable bags as part of Reusable Bag Day!

Recent research tells us that there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050! We see single-use plastic items, including the easily littered plastic bags, polluting our beaches and ocean. Marine plastic pollution is also extremely harmful, and sometimes fatal, for marine life. Plastic bags have an easy solution with reusable bags so this plastic bag ban is a great start at stopping the plastic waves of pollution entering our ocean and impacting wildlife.

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October 3, 2016

25th Anniversary Celebration October 29th!

Can you believe that the Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter has been doing great things for 25 years?! It all started when a group of passionate people met at the Fairgrounds in 1991 to form one of the first chapters for the Surfrider Foundation.

Come out to Surf Brewery on October 29th to celebrate our achievements with great music, food and beer! The parking lot will be fenced off and a stage will host surf music from Sea Hunters and reggae from Fire Stick and Rising Son. There will be a kids art tent, a fashion show, costume contest, raffle, food truck and a special new beer release from Surf Brewery to commemorate the occasion.

Admission is $5 at the door or for $12 at the door you can get admission, a commemorative steel pint cup, first beer fill and a raffle ticket. We also have a special VIP package only available online in advance. For $40 you get admission, a commemorative steel pint cup, first beer fill and five raffle tickets PLUS a commemorative long sleeve t-shirt, a Surfrider reusable bag and a 22oz bottle of the commemorative beer to take home. Click Here to purchase the VIP package.

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September 23, 2016

Surfrider and the Ventura County Fair Team Up to Prevent Plastic Pollution

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Photo A: Plastic firework debris first identified by Surfrider member in 2015

Surfrider is fed up with plastic pollution. It’s ugly and can impact wildlife that we love. Plastic pollution in the ocean typically starts as litter on the beach, streets or sidewalk. Sometimes there are more direct sources. After discovering a new type of plastic litter on the beach last year, Surfrider volunteers traced it back to fireworks from the County Fair.  We were happy to work with the Ventura County Fair Board and the fireworks company to use less plastic this year, improve clean up efforts, and we are all aiming for zero plastic litter next year.

In August of 2015, a Surfrider member discovered small red and white plastic objects on the shore at C Street/Surfers’ Point (see photo A).   It took a week or so to figure out that these plastic pieces were firework debris resulting from the Ventura County Fair fireworks shows that occur each evening of the fair.  This info was sent out to our local Surfrider chapter and a few other members showed up to check out the situation and collected a significant amount of debris the morning after the last night of the Fair (see photo B).

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Photo B: Firework debris collected by Surfrider members in 2015

The Chapter compiled a report of their findings and shared it with the CEO of the Ventura County Fair and the Board. In July of 2016, 2 Surfrider members attended the Ventura County Fair Board (VCFB) meeting to share their concerns about the environmental impact of the plastic firework debris.  The VCFB was supportive, thanked the chapter for the information, and scheduled a meeting with the project manager of the fireworks vendor to discuss ways to eliminate the plastic debris.  The outcome of the meeting with the fireworks vendor was positive and 3 specific actions were identified to eliminate the debris

  1. The fireworks vendor would remove all plastic bags and plastic components of the fireworks prior to launching them.
  2. The fireworks company would tie off the ignition wire, preventing the wire from flying loose with the shell as it launches.
  3. Implement a better procedure for morning site checks and clean-up

With the understanding that the above actions would be put in place, Surfrider volunteers surveyed the firework launch area and surrounding beach area each morning (8/4 through 8/16) of the 2016 Fair to assess the effectiveness of the agreed upon actions.

There was very little debris observed the mornings of 8/4 through 8/6. The clean-up person and a volunteer were out each evening after the firework show cleaning up what debris they could in the dark and were out again each morning.  They did a good job collecting firework debris at, and around, the launch site.  However, on the morning of 8/7 we began to find white plastic pieces about 100 yards down (towards the pier) from the launch site all the way down to the pier.  The white plastic pieces appeared to have washed up with the tide and were found mainly at the tide line, and most of them were caught up in kelp beds (see Photo C).

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Photo C: Plastic firework debris from 2016 Fair

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Photo D: Plastic firework debris collected by Surfrider volunteer 8/7/16 – 8/9/16

The number of plastic pieces increased over the time period of 8/7 through 8/9.  The amount of plastic pieces increased from ~ 30 pieces on 8/7 to ~ 125 on 8/8 to ~175 pieces on 8/9 (see Photo D). This debris was collected by 1 volunteer over a 1-hour period.   The debris was of concern because it was plastic (non-biodegradable), can be confused with food by marine life, and appeared to be increasing in number over time.

These findings were communicated via email to the fireworks company and the CEO of the Fair on August 9th.  The fireworks company was quick to respond, identified the plastic pieces and suspected that a vendor of theirs had started to use these plastic pieces in place of what used to be a paper piece.  They immediately extended their clean-up efforts the following morning and investigated the source of the plastic.  As a result, there was an immediate reduction in the number of plastic pieces found at the tide line the morning after the 8/9 correspondence as a result of clean-up efforts extending towards Ventura pier. These efforts continued through the end of the Fair as well as two days after the Fair ended and resulted in a major reduction of these plastic pieces being found at the tide line, in kelp, and in the rocks.

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Photo E: Firework debris collected as far south as Dover jetty 4 days after the Fair had ended

However, because the plastic pieces went directly into the ocean, they continued to wash up further south over time.  On August 16th, Surfrider received an email from a resident of Pierpont beach informing us that they had been finding plastic pieces (see Photo E) on the shoreline as far down as Dover jetty. Dover jetty is ~ 2 miles south of the launch site.  Further, on November 17th,  7 pieces of plastic firework debris were collected at the tideline near Marina Park, ~ 1 mile down from the Dover jetty and ~3 miles from the launch site. These findings stress the importance of ensuring the plastic components are eliminated from the fireworks as it is impossible to collect the plastic pieces that remain in the ocean and wash up to shore further south.

Moving forward, Surfrider would like to continue to improve upon the mitigation efforts that have been established to ensure there is no negative impact on our beaches, ocean and marine life from plastic firework debris. Specifically, we have asked the VCFB and the fireworks vendor to:

  • establish a mandate with their suppliers that only paper components be used in fireworks sold to them. Thus, eliminating the plastic component debris identified during this year’s Fair and preventing further littering of the ocean and beaches
  • utilize the clean-up standard that was established this year in following years.

We will continue to monitor this issue and to work with the VCFB to protect our beaches and ocean.

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