May and September the Coastal Conservancy approved a variety of
public access and habitat restoration projects along the coast
and on San Francisco Bay. Most of these projects were made possible
by Propositions 40 and 50, the park and resources bond acts approved
by voters in 2002.
Another step toward an ambitious restoration goal was
taken in August, when the Nature Conservancy, using $13 million
provided by the Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation
Board, bought 276 acres of wetlands at Ormond Beach from the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California and the City of Oxnard. This
property adjoins 265 acres of dunes and marshes that the Coastal
Conservancy has owned since 2002.
The purchase moved forward a plan to restore much
of the 1,000 or so acres of wetlands that once existed along this
coastal stretch of Ventura County. The Coastal Conservancy has been
working on this plan with the Nature Conservancy, wetlands scientists,
local partners, and other public agencies, and has reserved funds
for the purchase of at least 200 more acres. Restoration of 750 or
more acres—about three-fourths of the wetlands that used to
exist here—would be expected to result in a biological system
with sufficient freshwater flows and tidal action to sustain its
If integrated with neighboring coastal wetlands,
including 1,500 acres at Mugu Lagoon, Ormond Beach would be at the
core of southern California’s largest coastal wetlands, stretching
nine miles from Point Hueneme to Point Mugu.
The newly approved purchase will benefit fish, migratory
birds, and six endangered and threatened species, including the western
snowy plover and California least tern, which rely on the dune and
marsh habitat. About 95 of the 276 acres are farmed and will continue
to be leased for agriculture until wetland restoration can take place.
In Isla Vista, three stairways that have often been closed
because of storm damage will be rebuilt with the help of $150,000
approved by the Conservancy in September. The stairways down a
40- to 50-foot bluff along Del Playa Drive at Escondido Pass, Camino
del Sur, and Camino Pescadero provide access to highly popular
beaches and surf spots. The County will contribute $136,000 of
its own funding for the reconstruction, and will be further aided
by an $80,000 grant from the University of California, Santa Barbara,
Shoreline Preservation Fund. The County plans to transfer the stairways
to the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District.