In Memoriam

educating the public on environmental issues

The Ormond Project

the ormond project

Ormond Beach is regarded by many as the most important coastal wetland in California’s Central Coast, and by some as the most important wetland south of Monterey.

Geographically, it is a two-mile stretch of the California coast in western Ventura County that stretches from the Port Hueneme pier to the Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station boundary. It is a remnant of extensive coastal wetlands that—a century ago—stretched from Mugu Rock to the Santa Clara River. Driving on California’s Highway 1 from Malibu to Oxnard, one can see another section of the wetlands from one’s car, stretching from the road to the beach where the highway curves north of Mugu Rock. These wetlands are part of the Naval Base Ventura County and off-limits to the public.

The Ormond Beach remnant has been protected by its isolation, hidden behind a patchwork of industrial and agricultural parcels along Hueneme Road, the California state road in South Oxnard that connects the Port of Hueneme with California Highway 1.

Why Ormond Isn't Just a Local Issue

There are a number of reasons why Ormond Beach is not just a local issue. First and foremost is because it lies along the Pacific Flyway.

  1. The Pacific Flyway - Because Ormond Beach is on the Pacific Flyway, which stretches from Patagonia in South America to Alaska, and because that flyway is so fragmented, any place that still provides a place for migrating birds to rest and forage is that much more important, especially with sea level rise. As has often been stated, Ormond is the only coastal wetland south of Pt. Conception that can migrate inland with sea level rise because it is surrounded by agricultural land.
  2. The Endangered Species Act is both federal and state legislation. If the endangered species at Ormond are not being adequately protected, it is therefore a violation of federal and state laws.
  3. Ormond is part of the Mugu Important Bird Area (IBA). Audubon monitors IBAs worldwide in its efforts to protect bird species under increasing threat of extinction. Point Mugu | Audubon Important Bird Areas
  4. People come and people go. Earth Alert’s associate David Kanter and President Janet Bridgers are examples of people who lived in the area but have now moved away and still hold it very dear and remain active in Ormond Beach issues. With the prominence of a military establishment like Naval Base Ventura County, the area will always have people who come and go, and a few who come back, because they appreciate how wonderful the area is.

That being said, only residents of Oxnard can vote for their city council, which appoints the planning commission. The rest of us can participate in education and activism, but we can't vote in those elections. And the Oxnard Planning Commission has been a real problem in the past in terms of protecting Ormond.

The Coastal Act in California became law when Proposition 20 was passed by the voters in 1972. It became law because the citizens of California value access to its most important natural resource—the coast. It was a head-to-head battle with development interests who primarily looked at the coast as an opportunity to make money. In the same vein, we can say the beauty of the California coast is important to more than just residents of California. It is also important to visitors from all over the world, who bring their vacation dollars to spend by the coast. Travel and tourism brought in $115 billion in 2019, making it the 3rd largest industry in California after agriculture and entertainment.

Ormond Beach can become a world-class attraction, but if the citizens of Oxnard don’t hold that vision and vote accordingly, it will be the people of Oxnard who suffer the greatest loss.