In Brief

By VCR Staff 09/30/2010

Urbanization promotes inbreeding
A genetic study of animals in the Santa Monica Mountains proves it — urban development can isolate wildlife populations and promote inbreeding. Researchers at the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey studied three commonly found species of lizards and one small songbird, the wrentit, comparing the DNA of animals collected throughout the now-isolated scrubland patches and parks surrounding Thousand Oaks and Route 23.

They discovered that animals in these “habitat islands” have unique genetic profiles and animals within smaller or more isolated habitat patches are closely related to one another. The data showed that the populations of lizards and wrentits have become disconnected and isolated as their natural environments became separated and disjointed by roadways and housing. Unable to cross such urban barriers, they started to inbreed and lost their genetic diversity.

Decreased genetic diversity may increase a species’ chance of extinction.

The findings were published last month in the journal PLoS ONE.

“What’s interesting is that these four species are abundant and widespread in Southern California,” said NPS researcher Katy Delaney, the lead author of the study. “But if even these species are being negatively impacted by urban barriers, then what’s happening to the rarer, more specialized species in this region?”

The research article is publicly available at The study was a joint project of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center and the National Park Service Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Oxnard nonprofit receives $100K for immigrant services
El Concilio del Condado de Ventura, a nonprofit Latino advocacy and multiservice community organization in Oxnard established in 1975, received a $100,000 grant last month from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It came as part of a $7.8 million grant allocated to 75 organizations across the states to promote citizenship education and immigration integration in communities around the country.

“U.S. citizenship is a critical milestone that many immigrants aspire to achieve,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas in a press release. “We at USCIS are proud to contribute the tools and resources these immigrants need to realize their aspirations and join the beautiful mosaic that is America.”

El Concilio del Condado de Ventura will use the grant funds to provide citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services to primarily Hispanic lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in Ventura County. El Concilio del Condado de Ventura will offer six new citizenship education classes, four of which will be held at public housing sites through a partnership with the Oxnard Public Housing Authority.

For additional information on the Fiscal Year 2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, please see” To learn more about applying for federal funding opportunities, visit

Local environmentalist receives peace award
The Ojai Peace Coalition awarded environmentalist and founder of the Ojai Valley Defense Fund John Broesamle its annual Noble Peace Prize last week. The award was developed in 2007 to recognize local community members whose work or lifestyles exemplify the vision of a Culture of Peace.

Previous honorees are Clive and Marion Leeman of the Ojai Peace Vigil, Tara Blasco and Lyn Hebenstreit of the Global Resource Alliance, and Sally Carless of Global Village School.

“The Noble Peace Prize was created to highlight the kind of incredible work that our neighbors are doing all the time to bring about cultural peace on a variety of levels, often without recognition by the very communities they live in or serve,” said Evan Austin, director of the Ojai Peace Coalition. “Mr. Broesamle’s work to protect the health of the Ojai Valley’s people and environment is very much a part of the peaceful world we envision.”

Broesamle has been living in Ojai since the 1980s, when he began working with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy during acquisition of several preserve properties. Now, at nearly 70 years of age, Broesamle draws inspiration from his three grandchildren in creating and maintaining the defense fund to protect the valley’s unique character, working as much as 60 unpaid hours each week to lead an organization that transcends politics, religion and socioeconomic status.  
The hunt for veterans
Writer Jannette Jauregui of Santa Paula is currently working on a book of images that will feature Ventura County military veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The book, titled Images of America: Ventura County Veterans: World War II to Vietnam, is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2011. Jauregui is seeking original photographs featuring Ventura County veterans from all three wars.

Photographs can be in any setting, from the front lines to wedding photos in uniform, and professional individual portraits. Candid photos from training camps and overseas are highly desired. Those interested in submitting an image should include the original photograph(s) along with a self addressed stamped envelope to return the photo(s), and a two-paragraph description of where the photo was taken, whom the photo includes, where the veteran served, and what branch of the military he/she was in. All information should be mailed to:

Jannette Jauregui
P.O. Box 104
590 W. Main St.
Santa Paula, CA 93060

The deadline to send the photographs is Nov. 1, 2010. Any questions can be directed to Jauregui via e-mail at


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