Ventura County, California

Updates from Ventura County Chapter—Protecting our local ocean and beaches from source to surf
May 28, 2015

Reflections on Surfers Point Workday- May 2015

By Ashley Parrish



This past weekend I helped to run a Surfers Point Workday with The Surfrider Foundation just before the big Hands Across the Sand event. We were privileged to have Dave Hubbard of Coastal Restoration Consultants Inc.  Join us and lead the volunteers on which invasive plants we would be eradicating that day.

“We had a really nice day at Surfer’s Point on Saturday. Excellent Surfrider logistics. Great volunteers. Lots of education and outreach time mixed in. We mopped 99.9% of the remaining sea rocket across the entire dune restoration site, also weeded tumbleweed, iceplant, non-native chrysanthemum, some grasses and misc. weeds. The timing worked out really well.  The sea rocket seeds were not ripe yet, so we got them before they dropped.”

If you are not familiar with Sea Rocket this picture shows you who our main target was that day. Sea Rocket likes to grow in the native Beach Burr. It is very clever little sucker in that it has made itself look almost exactly like the native Beach Burr with the exception that is has a 4 petaled lavender flower and is more green than the Beach Burr, which has a yellow flower when it blooms.


I’ve recently been interested in the principles and ideas of Permaculture, but in permaculture they say there is no such thing as an invasive or a weed, that all things are beneficial, right? So I was curious about how Dave felt about this. He told me that when it comes to restoration of certain areas, there just isn’t room for plants that aren’t going to do the work like our natives. They are the true bio engineers of land and they know this land better than we do and certainly better than plants that come from an entirely different climate and ecosystem. It was fascinating talking to him about the importance of these Dune restoration projects not just from a stand point of the value for plants, and the animals that call these places home but even the benefits they have for us humans. He said he had recently gone to New Jersey, where there are dune areas so protected that if you step on them it’s an automatic $1000 fine. The amazing thing is, that during hurricane Sandy, houses that were behind these dune protected areas were left undamaged during and after the storm, whereas those houses in areas where sand is moved around and there is no vegetation to protect them were completely destroyed.  With things like sea level rise and potential future storms, having dune ecosystems that with all their native plants have the ability to hold onto sand could prevent a lot of damage in our costal cities. In the Case of Surfers Point part of the goal was to prevent further erosion to an already crumbling bike path.

Overall, the workday it was a great success and something Surfrider will continue to monitor and take care of for years to come along with the City of Ventura.

As Dave said, luckily there are not too many plants that can survive in salty, nutrient-poor, well-drained, beach sand but our beaches are not the only places where plants from out of town don’t belong. To learn more about Invasive Plants you can go to the Cal IPC Website to find out definitions of an invasive as well as impact. This and other websites like Plant Right also provide you with lists and pictures of plants that are considered invasive and why.

It’s time we really start working with Nature and really think about the impact we are having. You know how they say when camping or backpacking or even hiking that the ethical thing to do is to leave no trace? Pack it in, pack it out? That’s a practice I think we should have in our everyday lives and especially when we are thinking of our landscapes.

April 10, 2015

Surfers Point Workday Success!

Rosie from Volunteer Ventura educating volunteers on the Managed Retreat Project

Rosie from Volunteer Ventura educating volunteers on the Managed Retreat Project

With solid head high sets breaking at Surfers Point, more than twenty motivated volunteers from the Surfrider Foundation and Volunteer Ventura came together for the second time this year, as part of the Managed Retreat Project. Temperatures stayed in the 70s with a cool breeze blowing through. Perfect conditions for the second workday of the year.

Even goats showed up to assist our volunteers!

Even goats showed up to assist our volunteers*

The main goal of the day was to remove the non-native searocket plants that propagate throughout the dunes this time of year, before they start to seed and spread throughout the area.

Leading the charge was Dave Hubbard, from Coastal Restoration Consultants. Dave helped volunteers identify which plants are native, such as beach burr, and which ones to remove.

Dave Hubbard educating volunteers, who were showing off shiny new Surfrider vests!

Dave Hubbard educating volunteers, who were showing off shiny new Surfrider vests!

After 2+ hours of dedicated work, it was estimated that the dunes were 90% clear of the lavender-flowered Sea Rocket, our main non-native plant of concern. Removing these annual plants before new seeds are released enables the native plants to fill the spaces taken up this year’s crop.

Event Details:

March 30, 2015

Time: 9am – Noon

Volunteers present: 24

*Goats were not included in volunteer head count

March 17, 2015

Spring Maintenance Activity – It’s Time For Mulch Madness!



Adding mulch to a garden every spring is a great way to help suppress weeds, boost soil’s ability to hold in moisture, and build a “soil sponge” to prevent runoff. Mulch (leaves, chipped branches and bark) is broken down by soil critters, then eaten by soil microorganisms – and those organisms help feed plants. Some of the bits of mulch that aren’t broken down help create pockets of air and water that help retain water when it rains. Mulch also helps us “close the loop” with recycling yard waste and turning it into a valuable landscape material. It’s easy to get, whether from a tree trimmer, a business that sells it, or a city mulch give-away programs.

The Ventura County, CA Surfrider Foundation Chapter’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Committee is partnering with the City of Ventura and Agromin Premium Soil Products to offer residents of the City of Ventura FREE mulch. Mulch will be provided to City residents for pick up only (some cities such as Long Beach, CA and Simi Valley, CA offer free delivery of mulch). Residents are told to bring their own shovels, bags, containers, etc. While there is a limit of 100 gallons, residents can get free mulch anytime (dawn to dusk) at a local community garden. The City is a great OFG partner, and directs people to OFG-oriented resources on their website. We need volunteers for this event so if interested, please email


Fall is another good time of year for mulching – and weeding – and it can tied in with a social event. The Newport, Oregon Surfrider Chapter organized a “Pint-and-Pull” work party at the Ocean Friendly Garden they helped install at City Hall (pictured at left, and click here for details). Participants were given a ticket to get a pint at a local brewery after weeding and mulching.

One website, called Chip Drop, connects mulch providers with those who need it:

March 11, 2015

Ventura City Council Approves the Lawn Replacement Incentive with the Watershed Approach

On Monday, March 9th City of Ventura held their bi-weekly council meeting with a huge focus on water. The Surfrider-Ventura Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program Chair, the Surfrider National OFG Program Coordinator and other OFG enthusiasts rallied before the meeting to come mainly in support of Agenda item 6, which was the approval of the $770,000 incentive program to help citizens of Ventura to rip out their lawn. All other cities in Southern California already have this program in place as part of the fees that pay for purchase of state water (through Metropolitan Water District, the regional wholesaler). Since Ventura and the Ojai Valley are on local water, they have chosen not to participate in this program. But due to a worsening drought and the water saving value from removing turf, they have decided to fund a program themselves.

4 hours into the meeting, The City Council approved the Ventura Friendly Landscape Incentive Program which will give customers $2 per square foot, anywhere from $800 to $1600 depending on yard size, to replace the lawn with climate appropriate plants.















Paul Herzog, International OFG Program Coordinator got up to speak, as well as Ventura OFG Chair  and G3, Green Gardens Group Associate Ashley Parrish-Decker and Jason Brock of the Ventura Coop, all making the point that we shouldn’t just being doing this for drought but to sustain our environment and increase resiliency for the future. They each contributed something different in the quick 3 minutes they had to speak, but each reiterated that artificial turf was not going to cut it, though it may be permeable, the surface underneath is compacted and therefore impermeable and will continue to contribute to the run off problem. It is important we understand we do not live in a desert, but rather a Mediterranean climate. We can support a wide variety of plants and many of our native plants support the birds, bees and butterflies that are native to this area and losing more and more of their habitat each day due to human development. Surfrider OFG and the Ventura Coop offered their support to this incentive program and said they would be out in the community doing the work and the education that would be necessary once the program was being implemented. Successfully the City council approved the incentive with the requirement that only permeable surfaces were permitted and that the watershed approach be included in the program. Right on!

If you subscribe to the Ventura County Star, there is a great summary article reported by Arlene Martinez in todays paper. In addition to the rebates, the Council also voted to a new drought stage plan and increase rates accordingly. Per the article,

“The Ventura City Council approved a revised water shortage contingency plan, along with new rate structure tied to the severity of drought or other emergencies that would strain the water supply.”

“The plan defines levels of water shortage event, starting with a call to cut water use [or else seeing a visible difference in your water bill]” So Stage 2 would require a reduction of 10% while stage 6 requires 50%.

We are currently in stage 3 and will be moving into stage 4 in the next few months, which will then mandate a 30% reduction in water use. The City Council will have the final say of when we move between stages except for in the case of emergencies

Martinez also said that currently under stage 3 the average customer that is keeping usage the same and not making the 20% reduction is seeing a $22 increase on their bill, and so those who have made the reduction will not see an increase at all.

We will be discussing this and more at our Ocean Friendly Gardens meeting this coming Monday, March 16th at 6:30pm at the Surfrider Office 872 E.Front Street Suite 110

March 3, 2015

California’s Plastic Bag Ban is in Jeopardy!

The California Secretary of State’s office announced in February 2015 that they have validated enough signatures to put the bag bill on the 2016 November ballot for a public vote.

Last year, the California legislature and Governor Brown approved SB 270, the statewide checkout bag bill. SB 270 is written to ban plastic checkout bags at most food retailers while requiring a ten-cent fee on paper bags as the incentive to remember reusable bags.

After approval of SB 270, the plastic bag industry paid people to collect signatures to have a public vote on the 2016 ballot through the referendum process. We expect the plastic bag industry will spend millions of dollars on misleading ads leading up to the election.

While this suspends implementation of SB 270, there is hope in 2016! We will need your grassroots help to beat the well-funded campaign to repeal the bill.

A majority of Californians already support a bag bill according to a recent study by USC. There are over 100 bag ban ordinances throughout the state that will continue to be in effect and municipalities are permitted to pass more.

We need you to keep the conversation going that plastic bags are harmful to wildlife and an eyesore for many communities while there is an easy solution with reusable bags.


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