Ormond Beach Wetlands: The Better Half

063Today I returned to Ormond Beach’s South side entering from Arnold Road, which is marked by tiny green street sign next to a field on the eastbound side of Hueneme Road.  Arnold Road dead ends at the southeast entrance of Ormond Beach Wetlands.  I was met by former security guard and custodian of the wetlands, Walter Fuller, who with the help of The Nature Conservancy and the City of Oxnard, cleaned up the area South of the Southern California Edison plant, which extends to the northern perimeter of the Point Mugu Naval Base property.

With sadness, I learned that the canal water contains unhealthy quantities of pesticide run off from the bordering farmland.  Toxic waste seemed to be an ongoing problem for both sides of the wetlands, however I was clearly in a well cared for habitat that was ready for its salvation.

I also learned that the 35 year operations of Halaco on the North side of the wetlands, which included toxic and radioactive contaminant dumping, ended in 2004, but the site was not added to the California Hazardous Waste Priority List until 2007.  The City of Oxnard in cooperation with the EPA has removed some of the buildings and contaminated materials, however the EPA Superfund efforts to clean the property have only begun this year.

143Despite some of the habitat preservation challenges, I felt safe on the South side with the oversight of Walter Fuller.  There was no trash nor trace of homeless.  Walter greeted me like I was a guest in his home and gave me his business card, which I used to call him when I lost my way back to the trail.  During my visit, I also met Hector Diaz with the City of Oxnard, who was on his daily walk to the beach and back, monitoring the area for compliance issues by guests to the habitat.  His work is resultant of the City of Oxnard Ordinance dated July 7, 2016 protecting the beach plant and wildlife habitat: news release.

When I returned from exploring, Walter and I shared about our passion for birds and the environment.  We discussed the state of the wetlands on both sides.  Before I left he showed me a beautiful sunset picture of the wetlands after the rain, “when the pans are full” and assured me that I would have some pretty pictures for my painting after all.

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If you click on the highlighted text, it will show you a map of the area: EPA Halaco Engineering Removal Action Plan  The area that I visited yesterday is identified adjacent to the Halaco dumping area.

“A concern for public health and safety exists because of the presence of contaminants at the WMU. This is due to the fact that people walk, jog and ride dirt bikes on the WMU. It is important that the public understand there is a potential health threat in this area. The area will be secured and warning signs posted to minimize public exposure to hazardous chemicals.” – EPA Halaco Engineering Co. Removal Action Plan to Address Immediate Environmental Concerns

My question is, if the Northern area is toxic why is there still public access?   If you’re wondering about this too and would like to get involved, here’s a list of people to contact:

Wayne Praskins
Remedial Project Manager
Environmental Protection Agency
(415) 972-3181

Heather Parker
Community Involvement Coordinator
Environmental Protection Agency
(415) 972-3112

The Nature Conservancy
Ventura Office
532 E. Main Street, Suite 200
Ventura, CA 93001
Phone: (805) 642-0345
Fax: (805) 642-0342

Carmen Ramirez
Mayor Pro Tem
City of Oxnard

Sandy Hedrick
Conservation Contact
Ventura Audobon Society

Chris Kroll
Project Contact
CA Coastal Conservancy

Sean Hastings
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries
Resource Protection Coordinator

To close, it’s worth reading this informative article published by the VC Reporter in 2012: Ormond Beach: The Beautiful Problem.

**The painting of the utility box mural will commence again in a few days.**

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