July Newsletter–Friends of Ormond Beach

Source: Hueneme Voice

Tom Dunn is the publisher of Hueneme Voice

JULY 2020 NEWSLETTER
 

“The earth is what we all have in common”–Wendell Berry


ORMOND BEACH:
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES!
 

JULY 2019: The 3 top photos (photos courtesy of “A Dying California,” Christina Zubko, and Steven Gama).

July 2020: The bottom 2 photos reveal a very different Ormond Beach this summer. In the lower left photo a CA least tern is observed fishing in the Ormond lagoon. CA least terns take fish back to their mates and to their hungry chicks (photos courtesy of Joan Tharp).


JULY HEROES:
Even in times of political and social division, Friends of Ormond Beach believe that we all can find common ground in nature.  The earth heals, it brings many of us together, and it is a cause many feel compelled to fight for–even those who serve in law enforcement.  Politics aside, did you know that both the Oxnard Police Department (OPD) and the Port Hueneme Police Department (PHPD) have done much in the last year to protect Ormond Beach?  Walk Ormond Beach today and you will not find any evidence of homeless encampments in the dunes or around the lagoon, unlike last July, when drone footage, dropped on July 31 2019, just as the Ormond Beach Restoration and Public Access input meeting began, revealed an unprecedented number of homeless encampments. Last summer, women feared walking alone on Ormond Beach, the Junior Lifeguards were attacked, CSU CI biologists conducting research on Ormond felt unsafe, the Ventura Audubon Society lost signs and fencing around breeding and nesting areas, and a dog was brutally kicked on Hueneme Beach by an Ormond Beach transient–not to mention the piles of trash, needles, and biohazardous material all over the area.
This month, Friends of Ormond Beach recognize law enforcement and their commitment to keep Ormond Beach safe, to enforce ordinances that protect the endangered species of Ormond Beach, and to connect Ormond’s homeless with the services they need.  Indeed, our local  law enforcement officers are tasked with many responsibilities!
 

OPD SERGEANT STEVEN TRICKLE & HIS TEAM 

Oxnard Police Department Sergeant Trickle supervises the Homeless Liaison Unit and the Central Business District Neighborhood Policing Team. His team includes a Sr. Officer and five police officers (see photo left below). Each week, his officers take their Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) to patrol Ormond Beach (see Oxnard PD Homeless Liaison Unit Officer Cosio and Garza in their ATV patrol in the bottom right photo). Thank Sergeant Trickle and his team for enforcing Oxnard city ordinance 2906, which not only has helped the habitat of Ormond Beach but also has made it safe to walk, to enjoy, to train, and to conduct vital research on Ormond Beach again. He can be emailed at [email protected] or contacted at (805) 385-7600.

PHPD CHIEF SALINAS & HIS TEAM

Port Hueneme Police Department Chief Salinas and his team (see photo below) patrol the Hueneme Beach and since March have worked dilgently to enforce the city ordinance prohibiting dogs on the beach.  In March, when many California municipalities issued full beach closures due to COVID-19, Hueneme did not.  Salinas worked with Hueneme city officials to develop a set of guidelines to allow for safe access to the beach. In the weeks that followed, Hueneme Beach drew guests from all over California, including many who brought their dogs and were unaware of the city ordinance prohibiting dogs on the beach. Salinas and his team issued 200 warnings to dog walkers and explained the reasons for the ordinance–one of them being that the ordinance protects the flightless western snowy plover and CA least tern chicks that forage around the tideline nearby. In June, Salinas erected A-frame barricades with the flyer seen in the photo below. Salinas also supports discussions about creating a city-designated dog park–a win-win for the protected bird species and for dogs. He also welcomes ideas about how to use the Eagle Scouts, Explorers, and/or other groups to watch for dogs on the beach. Please submit your ideas to the Port Hueneme City Council and stay tuned!

In January, Chief Salinas also endorsed the idea of using some of the cannabis sales proceeds to be used to purchase signs and fencing that the Ventura Audubon Society (VAS) needed for the nesting and breeding sites on Ormond Beach. The homeless last year did extensive damage to the signs and fencing. Today Salinas continues to work closely with OPD to make sure the entire length of Ormond Beach is free from illegal activity that might harm humans and wildlife. You will also find him volunteering his time Saturday mornings at the Hueneme Beach cleanups with councilman Steven Gama and other environmentally-minded individuals. Chief Salinas can be emailed at [email protected] or contacted by phone  at 805-986-6538.


INTRODUCING THE NATURALIST CORNER

By Joan Tharp, Volunteer Naturalist for the Ventura Audubon Society, founding member, Friends of Ormond Beach

Every month FoOB will feature  information about the plant and animal species that live in or visit Ormond beach.  This month, there are two sections to “The Naturalist Corner.”  Section one will focus on Ormond Beach itself, an area of several hundred acres of beach, sand dunes, and wetlands. Together they form the unique ecosystem we generally refer to as Ormond Beach. Section two will highlight a particular species (bird or vegetation) of Ormond Beach.  This month the California Horned Lark will be featured. 


SECTION ONE: ORMOND BEACH
Ormond Beach is a designated Audubon Important Bird Area or “IBA” of global significance to bird populations worldwide.  The Ormond Beach ecosystem provides critical habitat to many threatened and endangered species, including the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus), California Least Tern (Sterna antillarum brownii), Belding’s Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis ssp. Beldingi), and Ridgeway’s Clapper Rail (Rallus obsoletus obsoletus), as well as many other species that rely on this area as part of their annual migrations. 

The Ormond Beach Wetlands are fed from several urban waterways, and reach from the east end of Port Hueneme to Arnold Road in Oxnard. The Ormond Beach wetland area and is actually part of a larger wetlands complex that extends into Naval Base Ventura County and Mugu Lagoon (which is fed by the Calleguas Creek). The urban waterways, drainage ditches, Ormond lagoon and marshes provide food and shelter to many of the 200 species of resident and visiting birds. Probably one of the most magnificent visitors to the Ormond lagoon is the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorynchos) that breeds in interior North America and migrates south to the coasts in the winter.


Listed below are images of and information about the various aspects that comprise the ecosystem of Ormond Beach.

BEACH: supports numerous species of shorebirds that feed on the invertebrates that live in the sand or in the beach wrack that washes up from the ocean. 

BEACH-WRACK: consists of seaweed, driftwood, and other organic material. Piles of wrack provide food and shelter for invertebrate species like beach hoppers and kelp flies. 

SAND DUNES: formed when wind blows sand against an obstacle. Dune plants like beach burr (Ambrosia chamissonis) beach primrose (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia), and sand verbena (Abronia maritima)  grow on the dunes and help stabilize them, enabling more dunes to form, and more plants to grow. Dunes provide a buffer from coastal erosion and flooding, and critical habitat for many species, including the Western Snowy Plover.  Storms, high tides, and waves can erode the dunes, but they re-form as more sand blows over them.

THE SALT PANNE: is a flat area behind the dunes at Arnold road. The salt panne is a seasonal wetland where shallow ponds are formed during winter rains. There is no outlet to the ocean or other waterway which creates a high salt concentration in the soil. This high level of salinity keeps the ponds un-vegetated, although salt tolerant plants such as pickleweed (Salicornia Pacifica) grow around the ponds. Like the dunes, the salt panne is a favorite nesting area for Snowy Plovers.

SECTION TWO: FEATURED SPECIES:
THE HORNED LARK

While the Western Snowy Plover and the California Least Tern may be the first birds people think of in conjunction with Ormond Beach, the California Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) gets the spotlight this month. Although not listed as threatened or endangered, their populations decreased 71% between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Habitat loss and compromised food sources due to increased pesticide use over the last 50 years are likely major causes of this decline.

Like the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus), the California Least Tern (Sterna antillarum brownii), and the Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous), the Horned Lark is a ground nesting bird found in the Ormond dunes and the grassy areas adjacent to the dunes.

Diet – seeds and insects mostly foraged from the ground.

Nesting – the nest, a slight depression in the ground, is built by the female on open ground, often next to a grass clump or other object, and is lined with grass and weeds with an inner lining of fine grass or plant down. The males defends the nest by flying, diving, and singing.

Eggs – there are between 2 and 5 eggs, usually 3-4 which are pale gray to greenish white, blotched and spotted with brown. Incubation is done by the female and takes 10-12 days to hatch.

Young – are altricial (unable to care for themselves) and are fed by both parents. They may leave the nest after 9-12 days, and are not able to fly for another week.

This last point is important for all of the ground-nesting birds at Ormond Beach.  Unlike Horned Lark chicks Snowy Plover chicks are precocial (able to care for themselves almost immediately after birth) but they still can’t fly for several weeks after hatching.  So eggs and chicks are especially susceptible to disturbance not just by natural predation, but also by humans and dogs.  That’s why we continue to stress the importance of leaving your 4-legged friends at home when you visit Ormond.

While walking the beach to exercise or to relax, see if you can detect the song of the California Horned Lark.  You can hear its song (and read more about this species) by clicking on this link: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/horned-lark.

(The above information was provided by audubon.org).

The Horned Lark (photos courtesy of VAS).  A curious male horned lark looks at the camera; the nest enclosure in the background demonstrates the shared environment. The ‘cage’ is used to keep ravens and crows from eating the Snowy Plover eggs, yet allows the parents and chicks to come and go off the nest. 

THE STATE COASTAL COMMISSION (SCC): AN UPDATE
ORMOND BEACH RESTORATION & ACCESS PLAN (OBRAP)

On July 31, 2019, the SCC presented a powerpoint of the OBRAP “Preferred Alternative” at the public input meeting (you can find the link to that powerpoint below). Since then, according to Chris Kroll from the State Coastal Commission (SCC), a consultant has worked on the preferrred alternative design and intends to complete the first third (30%) of the deisgn by the end of this month. 

Kroll also stated that the 30% design will then undergo a California Enviornmental Quality Act (CEQA) review that will guide the finalization of the preferred alternative OBRAP.  Additionally, there is often a 60% design and then a 100% design. These would follow after the Environmental Impact Review (EIR) is completed (which is how the SCC will comply with CEQA review).  The SCC then plans have a virtual public meeting to present. Stay tuned!

LINK TO OBRAP PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE: 
https://mcusercontent.com/e21edc864275587ec6ccf96d7/files/6e0c6365-8ad1-4cac-8c5d-d9cd6cd9b019/OBRAP_Public_Mtg2_presentation_Final_2019_07_23_1_1_.pdf
 

The SCC presented a powerpoint of the “preferred alternative” of the OBRAP on July 31, 2019.  Start with slide 19, which contains this illustration.

OBRAP CHALLENGES:
#1: ORMOND BEACH EROSION
One constant of Ormond Beach is beach erosion and is factored into the design of the OBRAP. The photos below illustrate the extent of the erosion today (photos courtesy of Joan Tharp). 

OBRAP CHALLENGES:
#2: THE HOMELESS 
For now, the homeless encampments are mainly contained to the Halaco slag pile.  Last year, homeless encampments sprawled out all over Ormond Beach–the dunes, the lagoon, and on The Nature Conservancy (TNC) property. Without Dial Security working on TNC and routine OPD patrols on Ormond Beach, it is likely that homeless encampments will once again spring up all over sensitive habitat areas.
The homeless encampments on the toxic Halaco slag pile pose a threat to both the homeless living there and to the sensitive habitat of the wetlands.  

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
CA COASTAL CELANUP
SEPTEMBER 26, 2020

The CA Coastal Cleanup is scheduled for 9/26/20 from 9:00am to noon.  Remember, big beach cleanups are prohibited on Ormond Beach  from March 1 to September 1 in observation of the western snowy plover and CA least tern breeding and nesting season. 
VENTURA AUDUBON SOCIETY UPDATE:
WATCH CUTE SNOWY PLOVER VIDEO!
(Courtesy of Ventura Audubon Society)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8-nIYYqx5E&feature=youtu.be

 

VAS President Cynthia Hartley explains that her team uses trail cameras to monitor snowy plover nests since her team can’t be there all the time. This helps Hartley and her team pinpoint when a nest has hatched, or if it failed because of a predator. Hartely and her team also sometimes catch people inside the nesting habitat. This time however they caught Mom taking a stretch break from brooding her eggs. Turns out trail cameras also make nice places to sit!

WESTERN SNOWY PLOVER NEWS: 
The Western Snowy Plover nest number is high for this time in the year.  They should continue to establish nests for the next six weeks.  According to VAS President Cynthia Hartley, there have been a lot of problems with raven predation, so she and her team are using predator exclosures on most nests right now.

Nest stats for Western Snowy Plovers:

  • Total: 47

  • Failed: 17 (14 because of ravens, 1 nest vandalized by a human)

  • Hatched: 17

  • Unknown outcome: 1

  • Active: 12

  • Fledglings: VAS estimates that 6 chicks have fledged so far, which Hartley says isn’t bad considering how many nests were lost to ravens early on

CA LEAST TERN NEWS:
California Least Tern numbers are down, last year VAS reported 70 at this time.  Tern numbers in general are low all over the state.  Hartley and her team think it might be a problem with availability of fish for forage. 

Nest Stats for CA Least Terns:

  • Total: 17 
  • Failed: 3 (abandoned from what we can tell)

  • Hatched: 4

  • Active: 10

  • Hartely reports having at least 4-6 chicks so far, and her fingers are crossed they make it to fledgling age.  Hartley should know in just a few short weeks.

VAS also expects at least a few more nests in the next few weeks, as there are pairs courting in both the north and south habitats.

ATV’s not been back recently, but VAS remains ever vigilant.  If ATVs have a repeat visit it would take out over half of our currently active nests, according to Hartley.

HUMAN THREATS:
VAS reports having problems with people entering the north habitat and tampering with nests, cameras and even nest markers.  One of the local vagrants moved a camera that was pointed at a nest and consequently, VAS missed documenting the nest hatching.  Since then someone has been back and has moved predator exclosures off of nests.  One nest had the eggs taken.  One of the VAS cameras has been stolen.  VAS assumes this has been an escalation of the initial crimes.  Unfortunately, whoever is doing this seems to be targeting nests with predator exclosures on them.  VAS is in a situation of deciding whether to protect nests from ravens (and using exclosures) or try to keep nests hard to find for humans (not using exclosures).

OTHER INCIDENTS: 

  1. In the south habitat VAS team members caught a dad with his 2 kids on a trail camera, way inside the nesting habitat right next to a nest.  He would have crossed the fences with all of the VAS signs that say the area is closed.  One of his children had his arms inside the predator exclosure and the other one waved at our camera. This incident took place in the south habitat.  
  2. Dogs are still a problem.  VAS volunteers ask dog owners that they encounter to at least please leash their dogs.  VAS volunteers explain the dangers dogs pose to nesting birds and chicks.  Hartley reports that while most dog owners are nice and leash their dogs, most unleash their dogs as soon as they are out of ear shot.  Hartley also reported that one man yelled profanities at one of the VAS volunteers.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
VAS needs help!  Eyes on the ground to catch people misbehaving in nesting areas are needed! 

VAS has ONE MORE volunteer naturalist training on July 9th.  Contact [email protected] for more information.


DID YOU KNOW…

LEGAL LANGUAGE PROTECTS ORMOND BEACH!

Oxnard City Ordinance 29016 SEC. 7-301:
PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES:

(A) To bring, walk (whether leashed or unleashed), ride or release any domesticated animal including but not limited to cats, dogs, horses and pigs. This limitation shall not apply to a leashed dog being used as a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(B) To bring or release any non-domesticated or exotic animal. This prohibition shall not apply to the legally permitted release of rehabilitated wildlife, subject to the permission of the property owners.

(C) To go within or interfere with any protected habitat area as designated by fencing, signage, or other method.

(D) To alter or remove any sand dune, plants or vegetation unless the activity is carried out pursuant to a validly issued permit and applicable legal requirements. 

(E) To camp as defined below: (1) “Camp” means one or more of the following activities: pitching or occupying camp facilities; or the use of camp paraphernalia. These activities constitute camping when it reasonably appears, in considering all the circumstances, that the individual, in conducting these activities, is in fact using the area as a living accommodation, regardless of the intent of the individual or the nature of any other activities in which they may be engaging. (2) “Camp facilities” include, but are not limited to, tents, huts, temporary shelters, or other similar facilities. (3) “Camp paraphernalia” includes, but is not limited to, tarpaulins, cots, beds, mattresses, sleeping bags, hammocks, cookware, cooking equipment, kitchen utensils, or other similar equipment.

(F) To make or kindle a fire for any purpose.

(G) To operate any motorized vehicle. This prohibition shall include and apply to remotely operated vehicles such as airplanes, helicopters, cars and drones. This prohibition shall not apply to public safety vehicles (including Coast Guard vehicles), military aerial vehicles, or vehicles used as part of a permitted program or operation to protect natural resources.

(H) To launch or fly a kite, kite board, or glider.

California Coastal Commission Coastal Act Policy 30240 (a)
ARTICLE 5 LAND RESOURCES Section 30240 Environmentally sensitive habitat areas; adjacent developments

(a) Environmentally sensitive habitat areas shall be protected against any significant disruption of habitat values, and only uses dependent on those resources shall be allowed within those areas.

(b) Development in areas adjacent to environmentally sensitive habitat areas and parks and recreation areas shall be sited and designed to prevent impacts which would significantly degrade those areas, and shall be compatible with the continuance of those habitat and recreation areas.
 


CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS TO OFFER YOUR SOLUTIONS!

CITY:
Oxnard City Council
Mayor Tim Flynn: [email protected]
Mayor Pro Tem: Carmen Ramirez: [email protected]
Bert Perello: [email protected]
Oscar Madrigal: [email protected]
Bryan MacDonald: [email protected]
Gabriela Basua: [email protected]
Vianey Lopez: [email protected]

Oxnard City Manager:
Alexand Nguyen: [email protected]

COUNTY:
VC Supervisor
Kelly Long: [email protected]

STATE:
Governor
Gavin Newsom: (916) 445-2841

State Assembly Woman:
Jacqui Irwin: (805) 482-1904

State Senator:
Hanna-Beth Jackson:  (805)988-1940

CA Coastal Commission Enforcement Officer:
Tina Segura: (805) 585-1800

CA Fish and Wildlife:1-888-334-2258

FEDERAL:
US Fish and Wildlife: 1-844-397-8477

EPA (Halaco Superfund Site/Slag Pile)
For Environmental Violations: 1-800-424-8802


HELP THE EARTH!

1) Be the Eyes of Ormond Beach: Eyes are needed at all access points–Port Hueneme, Perkins Road, and Arnold Road. Report illegal activity such as unauthorized off-road vehicles, illegal camping, tampering with signs, and altering of dunes. Don’t forget to report illegal dumping! (OPD: 1-805-385-7740/ PHPD: 1-805-986-6530).
2) Take Geo-Tagged Photos of Tents in the Dunes and Illegal Activity: 
Geo-tagging is an electronic tag that assings a geographic location to a photograpy.   Geo-tagged photos make it easer for OPD to find the tents in your photos. To set up geo-taggin, simply go into your phone’s settings. FORWARD PHOTOS TO FRIENDS OF ORMOND BEACH AT [email protected]–we are working closely with OPD Ormond Beach patrols. 

3) Pick up trash (safely, of course): Don’t forget about the windblown trash around Perkins island. 
4) Report poachers and polluters to CalTIP1-888-CalTIP (888-334-2258)
5) Become an “Ormond Defender” or a Certified VAS Volunteer Naturalist. Contact Kat O’Dea at [email protected] for more information.
6) Contact Oxnard City Council members: Tell them that you support the continued use of OPD to patrol Ormond Beach: https://www.oxnard.org/city-department/city-council/city-council-members/.
7) Contact Port Hueneme City Council members: Tell them that you support their collaborative effort with Oxnard to keep Ormond Beach clean and safe: https://www.ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/319/City-Council-Members.
8) Participate in Weekly Hueneme Beach Cleanups: Meet Saturday at 8:30 am at Lot C next to the Alaska Flight 261 Memorial.  Port Hueneme council member Steven Gama will supply buckets, pick-up sticks, and extra hand-sanitizer to help you stay safe. You can keep a beach clean and still practice social distancing.
9) Contact Friends of Ormond Beach: We have more ideas if you want to get involved ([email protected]).

FoOB THANK 

  • Donor Patagonia.com
  • Donor Robert Tatum, owner of Skunkmaster
  • Donor Beth Thuna, owner of HPC
  • Donor Dan Pearson, Pt. Mugu Wildlife Center
  • Donor David Kanter, private citizen
  • Kelly Long, VC District 3 Supervisor
  • The City of Oxnard
  • The City of Port Hueneme
  • Laura Hernandez, Mayor of Port Hueneme
  • Steven Gama, Port Hueneme City Council Member
  • Oxnard City Council Member Gabby Basua
  • Oxnard Patrol Sergeant Steve Trickle
  • Andrew Salinas, Port Hueneme Chief of Police
  • Brad Conners Port Hueneme City Manager
  • Scott Whitney, Oxnard Chief of Police 
  • Eric Sonstegard, Oxnard Assistant Chief of Police
  • Officer Jose Silva (Ormond Patrol), Oxnard Police
  • Laura Oergel, Chair of Ventura Surfrider Foundation
  • Kat Selm and Peter Dixon of The Nature Conservancy
  • State Coastal Conservancy
  • Ventura Audubon Society
  • CSU CI Biologists
  • Tevin Schmitt, Wishtoyo Watershed Scientist
  • The Tree Factory
  • Ventura Land Trust
  • Port Hueneme Seabees
  • Point Mugu Airforce
  • Oxnard Union High School District Board of Trustees
  • VAS Volunteer Naturalists
  • Walter Fuller, Steward of Ormond Beach
  • All Stewards of Ormond Beach, past and present

FRIENDS OF ORMOND BEACH MISSION: To protect Ormond Beach and the wildlife therein. 

If you are interested in joining our cause, please contact us [email protected].  Follow us on Instagram and on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/friendsoformondbeach/
Link
Copyright © *2019* *Friends of Ormond Beach*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
[email protected]

 


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Steven Gama

Christina, you are a fabuous teacher for sure! We in the community are so thankful for eveybody’s role/part in keeping Ormond on the forefront of Ventura County’s mind. Despite the challenges, its a wonderful beach. Ormond needs constant care and oversight and this letter is an excellent way to keep moving forward. Look at the spectrum of involvement in your newsletter! Let’s all keep working to make Ormand Beach the example of what community means!

Citizen Reporter

Great report!