Three Year Grant of $1 Million for Ormond Beach: Frequently Asked Questions

By Christina Zubko

Thank social media for drawing in a new generation of young environmentalists and conservationists to Ormond Beach.  In the past two years, Ormond Beach has been the focal point of numerous cleanups around the lagoon, beach, and dune areas as trash from homeless encampments and illegal dumping have persisted. Volunteers in the last two years have uncovered Ormond’s beauty bit by bit with the removal of each piece of trash, so it is not surprising that when they heard about the recent $1 million grant money that was awarded for the purpose of restoring Ormond Beach, they were elated.

Many of these volunteers, including local residents, however, do not know about the Ormond Beach Restoration and Access Plan (OBRAP) project or about the three Project Partners responsible for its funding and implementation: State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the city of Oxnard. Most do not know that the OBRAP project will be implemented in five phases and that phase one, restoration planning, design, and stakeholder outreach, was completed in June 2020. Additionally, most do not know that the $1 million grant award will help pay for phase two of the project–restoration site preparation, habitat protection, and community engagement, scheduled to occur at least until December 2024.

Peter Dixon, Project Associate, Santa Clara River and Coast Restoration, answers some frequently asked questions below:

1. Where did the funding come from?
In short, grant money, for which the three Project Partners applied. This award will cover three years of funding–approximately from 2021 until December 2024.
Federal Source:
The $1,000,000 federal funding comes from the US Fish and Wildlife Services, specifically, from a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation (NCWC) grant.   
Non-Federal Sources:
The $416,670 non-federal match comes from seven funding sources (see table 1). Ventura Surfrider and TNC are contributing the lion’s share of the matching funds–approximately $340,000.
Table 1: Non-Federal Match Funding Sources

Organization
Description of Investment
Project Contribution
Status
1.
State Coastal Conservancy
Implementation funding/cash 
$33,180 
Committed
2.
The Nature Conservancy
Implementation funding/cash 
$240,501 
Committed
3.
The City of Oxnard
In-kind match 
$5,643 
Committed
4.
The City of Port Hueneme
In-kind match 
$6,030 
Committed
5.
Ventura Audubon Society
In-kind match 
$28,000 
Committed
6.
Ventura Audubon Society
Implementation funding/cash 
$6,000 
Committed
7.
Ventura Surfrider
In-kind match 
$97,316 
Committed.
TOTAL
$416,670



2. What will the money be used for?
This award money is intended to fund phase two of the OBRAP project by December 2024. Specifically, the NCWC funding will address two primary objectives: 1) Restore, enhance and manage 334 acres of nationally decreasing wetland habitat; and, 2)  engage in community outreach and education, particularly with local disadvantaged communities, to facilitate restoration planning and stewardship of the Project Area (see table 2).

3. Where will most of the money be spent?
The majority of the NCWC grant funding will be awarded to TNC for professional service contracts to eradicate up to15 invasive plant species within and/or in close proximity of jurisdictional wetlands that occupy about 22 acres distributed across the 650 acre project site. (see table 2) A small portion of the money will go toward SCC and TNC salaries.It is anticipated that TNC will provide sub-awards to several partner organizations to accomplish project objectives, including community beach and waterway cleanups (Surfrider), habitat protection and monitoring  for endangered shorebirds (Audubon of Ventura County), and education and outreach in neighboring disadvantaged communities (see table 2).

Table 2: Phase 2 Budget Breakdown*
Activity Name
Total Budget
% of Total Budget
Project Management/Reporting
$158,691
11.20%
Restoration, Planning, Designing, & Monitoring
$197,489
13.94%
Invasive Plant Eradication
$728,650
51.43%
Nesting Bird Habitat Protection
$67,865
4.79%
Waterway & Coastal Cleanups
$184,370
13.01%
Outreach & Education
$79,606
5.62%
TOTAL
$1,416,670
100%



* Total award is $1 million. The above budget Includes required cash and in-kind matching funds such as volunteer labor and other donations to the project.

4. When will the next phase of the OBRAP be completed?
The exact phasing of project implementation is dependent on many factors that the project partners will determine in the next phase of restoration planning and as the plan proceeds through the environmental review process. The OBRAP (30% design) discusses phasing scenarios and factors that may impact implementation in detail. A general target for the project phases is described below although the project is likely to be broken into smaller phases depending on funding and project readiness.  
Phase 3 – Final Design, Environmental Review, Permitting (In process anticipated completion by 2025).
Phase 4 – May include project implementation in certain project areas, (ie eastern segment) without significant constraints and may include grading and visitor amenities construction (2025-2027) 
Phase 5 – May include project implementation in certain project areas where significant constraints occur, this phase will also include adaptive restoration & monitoring for vegetation and water management on the site (2025-2028+)

5. Where will the money come to fund future phases?
The Nature Conservancy has been awarded funding ($928,309) through the CA Ocean Protection Council to proceed with restoration planning including additional studies to fulfill data gaps relevant to design completion and community outreach. SCC staff will be requesting approval for $1.3 M to fund environmental review and technical studies necessary for the Environmental Impact Review (EIR) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process. The SCC request will be directed to mitigation funds provided through a settlement agreement with the operator of the Ormond Beach and Mandalay generating stations and pursuant to the State Water Resources Control Boards, Once-Through Cooling Policy and the Habitat Conservation Fund. Funding for implementation has not been secured.

6. What about the homeless living on the slag pile by the lagoon?
The award money is not designated to be used to help shelter the homeless or for services.  Currently,the Oxnard PD enforces Oxnard city ordinance 2906 which prohibits camping in the dunes, setting fires, altering dunes and vegetation.

The homeless for the most part are contained on the Halaco slag pile, which is private property.  The multiple owners have been cited repeatedly for city code violations but remain uncooperative with city officials. The city and county continue their outreach efforts to shelter the homeless living on the slag pile and have been largely unsuccessful. The term “service resistant” has been applied to these individuals. 

7. What about the Halaco Superfund site? 
The EPA has completed the Remedial Investigation (RI) and is developing the Feasibility Study and Clean-up Proposal alternatives. The EPA is included on the OBRAP Science Advisory Committee. The preliminary OBRAP considers results of the RI and is expected to be compatible with the Halaco Clean-up Plan and phasing.

8. What about the trash that ends up in the lagoon? 
Currently the South Oxnard Flood Management and Community Enhancement Project (J Street Drain Project), and Ventura County Watershed Protection District  are working on the improvement of  the J Street (Tsumas Creek) urban stormwater drainage  that feeds into Ormond Lagoon. The Project includes 3  catchments that will prevent trash and other  contaminants from reaching the lagoon and ocean.

According to Laura Oergel, Chair of Surfrider Ventura County, her organization is committed, with the help of the NCWC grant funds, to identifying the source of the trash that ends up in Ormond Lagoon and sadly, when the lagoon breaches into the ocean. Not only is Ventura Surfrider VC committed to identifying nonpoint trash sources, but it  will continue its monthly beach clean ups and also do quarterly water quality testing in the lagoon.


9. How can I get involved?
See below for ways you can volunteer at different times of the year:

BEACH CLEANUP INFORMATION:
March-August:
Become a citizen scientist and conduct a solo beach cleanup for Ventura Surfrider (group cleanups stop during these months due to nesting and breeding season of the endangered western snowy plover and the CA least tern species). You can find more information on Instagram and Facebook @surfriderventura or click here: https://ventura.surfrider.org/.

September-February:
Join a group beach clean up through Surfrider Ventura County, Every Saturday of the Year:

The mayor of Port Hueneme, Steven Gama, leads beach cleanups every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 11:00. Volunteers meet at the Alaska Flight 261 memorial–buckets and pick-up sticks are provided–and start on Hueneme Beach and work their way southeast to the Ormond lagoon. Coastal Keepers also conduct beach cleanups regularly and post their information on their Facebook and Instagram pages @coastalkeepers.

AUDUBON VOLUNTEER NATURALIST INFORMATION:
Volunteers are needed, especially during the nesting and breeding season, to educate the public about the endangered birds, to report vandalism and  illegal motorized vehicles on the beach, and remind the public to keep dogs off the beach. Sign up for a volunteer naturalist class at https://www.venturaaudubon.org/volunteer-naturalistsa and learn how you can help support the Shorebird Recovery Program at Ormond and educate the public about threats to wetlands habitat.

9. Where do I go to  learn more?
You can find the OBRAP in its entirety at the city of Oxnard website: https://www.oxnard.org/ormond-beach-restoration-public-access-plan/

Friends of Ormond Beach routinely engages with local, state, and federal officials related to Ormond Beach and publishes quarterly newsletters to summarize the latest developments. To subscribe to their emails email them at [email protected] or follow them @friendsoformondbeach on Instagram and on Facebook.

Stay tuned!  The three Project Partners announced that they will be launching a social media page soon to keep all environmentalists, conservationists, and stakeholders informed about the progress of the OBRAP.

 

Christina Zubko is Co-Founder of Friends of Ormond Beach. Opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the writer. You can reach Friends of Ormond Beach by email at [email protected].’


Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ventura local

How come Oxnard doesn’t know about this one million grant the government has granted ? Also does anybody know how much money was granted to the homeless people of ventura and Oxnard and most people that live down in the area of ormond beach don’t choose to live there , preserve the people this is mind boggling spending one million dollars in three phases to preserve a area for the wild life ( birds ) I am an Oxnard shores resident ,money wasted ! Help the people !

C E Voigtsberger

Well, I certainly agree with “money wasted.” I predict in 5 years from the commencement of the “restoration” a visitor to the site will not be able to tell the difference between before and after.

Christina Zubko

They ARE choosing to live there. They have been approached numerous times by city and county service providers. They are service resistant. Oxnard does know about the award money—they are one of the 3 project partners.