Beloved Ormond Beach caretaker receives Recognition Award for his work

 By Steve Nash

Walter Fuller, the recipient of the Community Recognition Award, 2014 Outstanding Senior, presented by the City of Oxnard’s Community Relations Commission, sat down and chatted about what led him to his current pastime as steward and docent of Ormond Beach, Oxnard’s beautiful stretch of California coastline running from the Hueneme Pier to the western boundary of Pt. Mugu, Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC).

Editor’s note: Mr. Fuller is the unpaid, full-time steward at Ormond Beach. He had been doing that while living in an old cargo container before the City of Oxnard bought him a nice trailer recently. Walt used to come down and eat lunch at Ormond Beach when he worked at the Pt. Mugu Naval Base. He started hanging around and helping out, took an interest in things, particularly the birds. Over the years, he has painstakingly created detailed logs of bird activity, taken hundreds of excellent photos and supported university research programs.  People have big ideas for future expansion and development of the beach into a regional park and Walter will likely figure in them.

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Walt Fuller (center) can often be found near the entrance, talking, teaching and collecting information, when he’s not out walking the grounds to spot bird and animal presence (photo: Citizensjournal.us)

Why he received the award:

This is a partial list of some of his activities on behalf of the Ormond Beach area: currently assisting NBVC in a volunteer capacity, supplying 17 years of bird research and data analysis as part of the Navy’s drone project with an emphasis on bird strikes; currently the senior docent of Ventura County Shorebirds in charge of volunteer teaching efforts; volunteer director for the erection of protective fencing for endangered shorebirds at Ormond Beach; volunteer director for education, RESTOR Project, Ventura Community College, CSUCI; volunteer director of education seminars conducted for Cal Poly Pomona; assists in quarterly bird reports for the Ormond Beach Task Force; volunteer for the Fish and Wildlife Service; volunteer for Fish and Game; volunteer assistant for Nature Conservancy and Coastal Conservancy land managers; volunteer with the Laboratory of Ornithology of the American Bird Conservancy, North American Birds, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network; volunteer assistant for NBVC, Arnold Road security fencing project. His presence has nearly eliminated vehicle break-ins and vandalism. This makes it possible for all of us to enjoy a carefree trip to this wonderful diamond-in-the-rough we call Ormond.

 His presence has nearly eliminated vehicle break-ins and vandalism. All his efforts make it possible for all of us to enjoy a carefree trip to this wonderful diamond-in-the-rough we call Ormond Beach. So please remember, when you visit the Arnold Road site, to give Mr. Fuller a little something. Walter is an unpaid volunteer. 

Photo Credit:

Walter Fuller at Oxnard City Hall after receiving award (Photo : Dan Pinedo)

Walter's former home at Ormond was a cargotainer

Walter’s former home at Ormond was a cargotainer. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ormond Beach is surrounded by the Naval Base, farms, the NRG power plant and the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

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Many bird species are found at Ormond. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

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Ormond Beach is bounded on one side by the NRG power plant, which may be torn down. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

Come visit Ormond Beach! (Map)

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Fishermen, hikers, picnickers, birdwatchers frequent Ormond Beach. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

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The new trailer (photo: Dan Pinedo)

Ormond Beach Facebook Page

 

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Walter has catalogued and photographed many species. Some were on display when we visited. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

Walter’s Background

Walter was born in 1954 in Chandler, Arizona, near the Williams Air Force Base. He and his mother moved to Ojai, California to live with his grandparents in 1964. Walter’s grandfather worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, where he was involved in many of our local water infrastructure projects.

Walter loved baseball and often walked to Sarzotti Park to play the game. As he began hiking the local mountains, his love of baseball began to turn to a deep love of nature and wildlife. Often hiking in the Los Padres Forest, he felt right at home among the deer and bear, and acquired a menagerie that included pythons, constrictors, local snakes, raccoons, and foxes. But there were birds, lots of birds, among them parakeets, cockatiels, cockatoos, an Amazon parrot and an injured Red-tailed hawk he rehabbed and then relinquished him to a more appropriate facility.

His senior-year science teacher encouraged Fuller to do a report on the Golden Eagle. This is when this man learned how to use the Audubon Field Guide and binoculars. Walter remembers a trip he took to the Ventura Harbor in 1971 when found an injured brown pelican so, of course, he grabbed it and took it on the SCAT bus back to Ojai where he could properly care for it.

Walter worked at Pt. Mugu, NBVC until 1996 when he was caught in the initial BRAC process and was laid off. He was already familiar with the Ormond Beach area and had been photographing its many splendors. Roma Armbrust had heard of his photos and sought Walter out to borrow some of his images for her efforts to preserve Ormond Beach. This was in 1995 when he began spending more and more of his time there, first at the Perkins Road site and eventually turning his full attention to the Arnold Road area.

After suffering deep personal losses, Walter immersed himself in caring for Ormond Beach, her wetlands and wildlife. He has been serving as Ormond’s steward and docent ever since, uncompensated but greatly loved and appreciated by everyone who visits the area.

These are some of the animals Walter has encountered at Ormond: long-tailed weasels, coyotes, foxes, rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, ospreys, peregrine falcons, great blue herons, snowy egrets, least terns, sea lions, dolphins, whales, bald and golden eagles, burrowing owls and 250 documented bird species. A reason for the great diversity in bird species is Ormond Beach lying along the Pacific flyway for migratory birds.

The City of Oxnard and her residents very graciously provided Mr. Fuller with a trailer and electric hook-up this year thanks to the City Council approving Measure O expenditures. Prior to receiving his trailer, Walter was operating out of a metal shipping container, with no water and no electricity.

Read original long version article: Walter_Fuller_Recognition

Steve Nash

Steve Nash

 

Steve Nash: Is a Planning Commissioner in the city of Oxnard.  He holds a B.A. in  Environmental Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara

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