Earth Day Ventura County
By VCR Staff 04/17/2014
Tree removal in T.O. sparks anger
The city of Thousand Oaks last week began removing trees along Pederson Road, a picturesque drive just off Highway 23. Eleven trees in total were scheduled for removal to be replaced with a more sidewalk- and road-friendly species, but area residents say they are not happy with the decision that was made in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Rachel Powell is a resident of the community adjacent to Pedersen Road and often jogs beneath the canopy of the trees. Powell says that the trees, mostly Aleppo and stone pines planted in the late 1970s, were a big reason why many community members moved to the area.
“People move over there specifically because of that road,” said Powell. “It’s nice to have that rural feel of nature where you don’t really have much of that anywhere else here.”
The city of Thousand Oaks has been named Tree City USA by the Arbor Earth Day Foundation for more than 13 years and has an inventory of more than 27,000 trees, according to Public Works Superintendent John Smallis.
Smallis says that some of the trees have become detrimental to the sidewalks and bike lane on Pederson, causing hazards for bicyclists, joggers and others.
“Those trees are not suitable as street trees,” said Smallis. “The reason for that is that they cause significant damage to infrastructure.”
Of the 11 scheduled for removal, eight have already been removed.
“What’s happening is the sidewalks are lifting, and in some areas the street is also lifting, and both of those present a liability to our residents.”
A sign posted on the trees makes mention of failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifies that a lift of more than a quarter-inch on a sidewalk does not meet the specifications for the disabled, according to Smallis.
The trees had been on Pedersen Road before the Thousand Oaks Forestry Master Plan was established in 1989. The city will replace the pines with trees that meet the plan’s requirements.
The remaining trees are scheduled to be removed by this weekend. The city is also in the process of forming a committee to hear public commentary regarding citywide issues, including landscaping, called Vision 2064. For more information regarding Vision 2064, visit www.toaks.org/living and search for “50th Anniversary.” — Chris O’Neal
Ecopsychology event in Ojai
Residents of Ventura County will be given the opportunity to study with a leading expert in ecopsychology and get firsthand knowledge on their own personal eco-systems.
The class, titled “Ecopsychology: Exploring the Complex Relationship between Nature and Human Nature,” will be instructed by Lori Pye, Ph.D., president of the online Viridis Graduate Institute, on April 26 at Ojai Valley Green Coalition’s resource center.
Lori Pye, Ph.D.
“It’s looking at processes in the natural world that mirror human processes,” Pye said. Pye has taught the world over, traveling to give versions of the class to educators and those looking to reconnect with the natural world. The class has also been offered at UCSB, Antioch University and elsewhere. Every year, Pye hosts an online version of the class through Viridis Graduate Institute.
Pye says that humans have a lot in common with plants.
“There’s so much to learn from plants,” said Pye. “One of the things we learn the most from the natural world is cooperation and working together.”
The five-week course will cover topics ranging from waste, specifically focusing on how humans interact with each other in regard to oil and other natural resources, to diversity and change. Pye says that plants often deal with similar situations.
“I’m extremely intrigued by the whole concept,” said Deborah Pendrey, director of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition. “This is embracing the extra dimension that is the missing piece of the puzzle that I think will help people not only understand why we need this but to also do it.”
The Ojai Valley Green Coalition’s Ecopsychology workshop will be held on Saturday, April 26, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., at 206 N. Signal St., Ojai. The five-week course will begin Thursday, May 1. For full workshop and course details, visit www.ojaivalleygreencoalition.org. — Chris O’Neal
Port of Hueneme installs green energy alternatives
If you’re refrigerating goods on an international delivery run, don’t expect to cruise into any California harbor on your standard diesel engine. As of this year, all ports in California have been required to tow ships into port, hooking them to power generated on shore as a means by which to reduce emissions — and the Port of Hueneme is ahead of the game.
The California Air Resources Board mandated that all refrigerated vessels must be docked using power generated onshore via a system of cables and a tow boat, the reason being that refrigerated vessels require continuous power — whether that be from onboard engines or elsewhere.
Now, instead of docking and idling, Del Monte or Chiquita banana will be able to cut engine power and run emission-free. Pilots on board tugboats will board and guide the ships into the port, drop the cables and plug them into the generators.
The six shore-side power outlets that provide power for the docked ships, according to CEO and Port Director Kristin Decas, are like outlets — only much larger.
“It’s a very high-voltage system,” said Decas. “It significantly reduces emissions, and we can tell you, over the lifetime of the project,we will see a 92 percent reduction in particulate matter, a 98 percent reduction in NOx and a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.”
The life of the project is expected to reach 30 years and should reduce diesel fuel consumption by 67,500 gallons a year, according to Decas.
Port Commission Board President Mary Anne Rooney said in a press release that the Port of Hueneme is no stranger to leading the field in green-friendly technology.
“We take action and make environmental sustainability a top priority in our business plan,” said Rooney. “This project represents perhaps the single largest reduction in air emissions by one project in the history of the county.”
Close to $12 million has been spent on the project, with several grants making up a large portion of that, including $4.5 million allocated by the Air Resources Board and a $2.1 million tax credit for the infrastructure. Grants from the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency will allow for the remaining substation to be constructed and utilized.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 24, at 2 p.m. at the Port of Hueneme. — Chris O’Neal
New app for local cyclists
Just in time for Bike to Work Month, a mobile app will show users the best trails to take on your morning commute.
Ventura Bikes, an application developed by My City Bikes in collaboration with Trek Bikes of Ventura, will feature the “most accessible commuter biking routes, the safest road biking routes and beginner-appropriate trail and mountain biking in the area,” according to a press release.
Jeff Byers, owner of Trek Bikes in Ventura, says that the application will be useful for cyclists in the city in a way that Google can’t be, by offering details of not only city streets, but also mountain biking trails and other off-road choices.
“It’s going to tell you the best way to get from point A to point B if you’re on a bike,” said Byers. “There’s going to be a section on there that has bike tips, too. It’s going to be a pretty cool app.”
Ventura is not the only city to get the application. On Monday, April 21, the day of the application’s release, Durango, Colo., and Miami, Fla., will have access to personalized apps. Nine other cities across the country will be mapped and available via the application in the months to come.
The Ventura County Transportation Commission offers bike maps via its website goventura.org and has its own dedicated application for both iPhone and Android, but off-road trails, such as those for mountain biking and otherwise, are not available.
The free application will be available on April 21, the day before Earth Day. For Byers, an avid daily cyclist, the application brings excitement.
“It’s going to give you the best route to where you want to go.”
For more information on MyCityBikes and to download the application for either iPhone or Android, visit http://mycitybikes.org. For information on the VCTC mobile application, visit www.goventura.org. The app is now available for the Android: bit.ly/VenturaBikesAndroid. — Chris O’Neal
The CREW of Ojai
Have you ever wondered who creates those wonderful nature trails throughout Ventura County? Well, the team of volunteers and students that make up Concerned Resources and Environmental Workers (CREW) are responsible for miles of trails around the valley. CREW works closely with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, which owns thousands of acres, preserved in their natural state and free from development, open to the public. It also works with federal, state, county and city agencies as well as other private organizations. Last weekend, CREW held its annual barbecue fundraiser, bringing in more than 100 people and raising approximately $15,000 to fund various projects and to purchase equipment.
The nonprofit, which was established in 1991, not only builds trails and helps restore older ones, this group also reaches out to the local community and does necessary yard work to help the elderly on fixed incomes whose properties are being swallowed up by flora.
The nonprofit Concern Resources and Environmental Workers of Ojai help to build and restore trails such as this one in the Ventura River Preserve, which is owned by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.
“Some of our projects we are working on will be our Senior and Disabled Citizen fire protection project,” said William Murphy, executive director of CREW. We provide household fire clearance for over 650 low-income senior and disabled citizens in nine mobile home parks and freestanding households. This is a big project that impacts everyone in the community. We are now in our fifth year of this project and it continues to grow.”
The CREW, however, goes a step further. Whereas many nonprofits often look for volunteers to do the work, it was decided as a part of the mission that in helping at-risk youth and young adults, age 16-26, CREW would provide paid opportunities to work in nature. These are just a few of the projects and programs CREW offers the community.
“The outlook for the CREW is bright,” Murphy said. “We have been in business for 23 years and look forward to many more serving the community and our youth.
The CREW is essential to the creation and maintenance of public trails and many other valuable environmental issues in both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. To get involved or to donate, go to www.thecrew.org. For more information on the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and for maps of trails in Ojai, go to http://ovlc.org/. — Michael Sullivan