CNPS has been participating in the Calleguas Creek Watershed Management Plan as a stakeholder since late 1995. The goals of the plan are to develop recommendations to facilitate development in the watershed while protecting, enhancing, and restoring important biological, cultural, and other resources within the watershed. More complete information about the Calleguas Creek Watershed Management Plan Committee and the plan can be obtained by going to its website (http://www.calleguas.com/ccbrochure/ccwrp.PDF), hosted by the Calleguas Municipal Water District. Contact David Magney at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 805/646-6045 for more information.
CNPS has been participating as a stakeholder, primarily through attending the Habitat & Recreation Subcommittee meetings since 1996. These meetings are held generally every other month, at least quarterly, in Thousand Oaks. All members of the public are welcome to attend the stakeholders, and subcommittee meetings. Below are summaries of articles on the Calleguas Creek Watershed Management Plan taken from Channel Islands Chapter newsletters.
Awhile-back CNPS described the work of the Calleguas Creek Watershed Management Plan Committee, which CNPS is a regular participant. The Calleguas Creek watershed includes all of the Conejo Valley, Simi Valley, Santa Rosa Valley, Las Posas Valley, Camarillo, and the eastern part of the Oxnard Plain, and Mugu Lagoon. The stakeholders, which includes all agencies, businesses, and citizens in the watershed, meeting regularly and conduct studies on the resources of the watershed with the intent of developing a watershed-wide management plan. CNPS previously participated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in preparing a preliminary map of the vegetation of the watershed, focusing on Coastal Sage Scrub types. Additional funding has been made available to the Committee through the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] (with a line-item from Congressman Elton Gallegly) to further the work of the Committee. The Committee will hire a consultant this fall to complete the vegetation map and make it available to the Committee to assist with developing the watershed management plan. Currently, I am (through my company) preparing wetlands restoration plans for approximately 10 sites within the watershed as part of a contract from the Coastal Conservancy, which is greatly assisting with the management plan and Committee work.
Friday, 19 January 2001 saw a meeting of interested stakeholders at a “State of the Watershed” conference. A larger group of interested parties, including CNPS, has been meeting regularly since early 1997 to develop a management plan for the Calleguas Creek Watershed. The plan is to figure out how to improve conditions in the watershed for a number of things, from water quality, flood control, agriculture, humans, and the natural environment, before it is too late, and it ends up looking like the San Fernando Valley, which it will if we, the people, don’t prevent it from happening now. David Magney Environmental Consulting recently completed (on behalf of the California Coastal Conservancy and EPA) an assessment of the condition of the wetlands of the watershed, and identified a number of opportunities to improve, restore, and enhance existing conditions in the watershed. (A copy of that report can be downloaded from the Calleguas website.) One or more of the 12 restoration sites will likely move forward in the near future, one of which is the Rocky Pointe property in Santa Susana that we have written about in previously.
The conference was well-attended, but it was, believe it or not, not long enough. We barely had time to scratch the surface of the many issues and conflicts that will need resolution. The exciting aspect is that many things are getting done in studying the watershed so that a good management plan can be devised. The natural vegetation has been mapped, and is now being verified by volunteers from CNPS (you can help too if you would like, just call me), Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others.
One of the questions posed to a panel was how could economic viability and conservation of the environment be balanced? I do not believe that this is the right question, or that this question presupposes that the must be compromise between the two. A community can be economically viable AND conserve its natural environment. There does not have to be compromise, unless you think that economic viability is contingent upon urban sprawl. Many studies have demonstrated that urban sprawl only provides short-term economic gain to a community, but ends up costing the community more than it generates after the building has been completed. That is because the typical housing tract is more costly to provide services to than other types of urban growth or business.
Obviously, if you wish to maintain acreage in either or both agriculture and natural vegetation, you can’t allow urban sprawl/expansion without losing one or both. So how do you accommodate our expanding population? That is a good, and tough question, because it requires us to change how we are currently doing things, and most people are afraid of change. But change we must if we wish to maintain our quality of life, which requires open space and natural vegetation, i.e. native plants. We are going to have to have denser communities, more people living closer together. We can’t all own an acre of land for our house, there simply is not enough land to allow that without totally destroying our environment, and creating a community that we will not want to live in anymore. We also need to get out of our cars and live and work in our communities, because everything we do has an affect on the environment, and each citizen needs to do the most they can do to contribute to the solution.
Currently, we have about 2,000 taxa (which includes species, subspecies, and varieties) of vascular plants in Ventura County, of which about 75% are native, and nearly 45% (900 taxa) of are rare (represented by 10 or fewer populations). Those 900 taxa represent a clear warning to us. While there are many reasons for rarity, most rare plants are rare because humans have directly or indirectly caused their rarity. It is a clear sign that we are not managing our natural resources correctly. We must change our ways or they will quickly disappear.
There are a number of things that each of us can do to help improve our environment. First, we need to take full responsibility for how we behave, by what we consume, and what we throw away; how we landscape our yards; how we light, heat, and cool our homes; what we eat; who we elect to represent us; how we communicate and participate in decisions made about how our communities grow or change, etc. Every little thing you do has some positive or negative affect on our environment. Be conscious of your decisions and actions and ask yourself regularly if it is the right thing to do. Ask yourself how you could do better, even if it is just a little thing. If we all do this, we WILL have a better community, and a healthier environment, and our native plants will get conserved, and we will reduce the extinction rate.
The last Habitat & Recreation Subcommittee meeting, which I sit representing CNPS, approved moving forward with supporting purchasing and restoration of the Rocky Pointe property in Santa Susana that I have written about in previous newsletters. The Subcommittee’s recommendation has been forwarded on to the watershed Steering Committee. CNPS decided to donate a total of $2,000 towards the purchase of this important property, with $500 coming from the Channel Islands and Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapters each, matched by $1,000 from the state CNPS treasury.
After many years of attending meetings, conducting field work, and preparing plans, significant movement and actions recently have happened that will result in protection and restoration of floodplain and riparian wetlands within the southeastern portion of Ventura County, in the Calleguas Creek watershed. The Coastal Conservancy commissioned an evaluation of the wetlands within the watershed (which I managed under contract to the Conservancy), which identified several sites that could be restored to improve wetland functions.
One of the projects has long been a goal of CNPS, the Rocky Pointe property in Santa Susana (eastern end of Simi Valley), which ownership of is being transferred to the Rancho Simi Parks District, largely because of the hard work of Sybil Scotford, assisted by others such as Holly Huff, who live in the area. They convinced the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to protect the property, which of course was planned to be developed into homes, and it is happening. (Information on the Rocky Pointe project elsewhere on this website.) It is the home of the listed-rare plant, Santa Susana Tarplant (Deinandra [Hemizonia] minthornii) and other important native plants, fabulous rock outcrops of cultural importance, and wetlands. The next step is to develop a plan to reconnect the onsite wetlands to Arroyo Simi (which runs along the northern property boundary) by removing the concrete channel (at least in part). Jeff Pratt, Ventura County Flood Control Director, recently told CNPS that they are happy to allow such a project as long as it still can provide the flood control features it performs today.
The Coastal Conservancy is moving forward on another of the restoration plan recommendations to restore a portion of the floodplain on the lowest reach of Conejo Creek in Camarillo. The Conservancy is working towards purchasing the property, then significantly widening the creek, which runs through it, and planting it with native wetland riparian plants. VCFCD is also anxious to see this project move forward.
VCFCD is also working to restore the floodplain of Calleguas Creek (just downstream of the Conejo Creek confluence) at Camarillo Regional Park. This is another of the recommended restoration projects in the Calleguas Creek Watershed Wetland Restoration Plan.
Exciting and good things are happening in the Calleguas Creek Watershed. Tell your elected representatives (federal, state, county, and city) how much you appreciate their efforts and work to preserve and restore wetlands in your area.