Friends of Ormond Beach for a long-term land-management

by David Caskey

As the OBRAP partners seek a long-term land management option, I suggest that they consider eventually becoming a part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) of the US National Park Service (NPS).

I recognize and appreciate all the efforts by various groups over the years for the Ormond Beach area, and accept that the process to be a part of The SMMNRA will require the collaboration and support of all of them.

I note the following reasons for the inclusion and protection that would come with this action:

1) the area is a rare example of coastal wetlands that provide access and a striking visual link with the Santa Monica Mountains and the Channel Islands National Seashore

2) the area is located in, and would serve, an economically disadvantaged community that has been harmed, in health outcomes and otherwise, by proximity to industrial activities in the area that needs restoration and protection.

3) the area is a habitat and nesting grounds for at least two endangered species, the Western Snowy Plover and the California Least Tern. The habitats have been damaged, and remain threatened by illegal encampments created by the homeless population.

4) the area, despite its problems, is a recreational resource used by the neighboring communities, and elsewhere in the region. Community support is evident by volunteer groups who have Invested thousands of man hours to constantly clean up the beach and wetlands. Local volunteer efforts have included, but are not limited to, the public safety agencies of Oxnard and Port Hueneme, the Audobahn Society, Friends of Ormond Beach and the Surfrider Foundation.

5) over 20 years of planning by the California Coastal Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy and the City of Oxnard have made little progress, in large part, because they do not include major land owners of the power plant (formerly NRG)and smelter Sites (Halaco, an EPA superfund site) and because of continuous demands on the area for industrial uses.

Recent Federal legislation will ensure that some $900 million a year will be available From the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was established in 1964, but which has been picked over the years for other uses. Lots of deferred maintenance, as well as acquisitions will be looking for these funds.

The Ormond beach and wetlands, with their long history of abuse and degradation are truly deserving of attention now. For reasons hard to understand in 2020, this incredibly beautiful, ecologically rich, and scenic area was the designated dumping ground for industry and individuals alike. It’s long past time to address the mistakes of the past. Eventual inclusion in the National Park System will make possible a much brighter future.

Friends of Ormond Beach are hopeful that President Trump will sign the Great American Outdoors Act recently passed by Congress and that funding a long-term management solution for Ormond Beach will be prioritized.

This article first published in Hueneme Voice

David Caskey works for the Navy in DC

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