Public screening of documentary on saving Ormond Beach

Public screening of documentary on saving Ormond Beach

By Chuck Graham 02/05/2009

With over 90 percent of California’s wetlands destroyed, why shouldn’t Ormond Beach be preserved? Most of the state’s central and southern coastlines have been reshaped and reconfigured into beach houses and agricultural fields. Can’t we keep what remains, the mere postage stamps of estuaries and marshes that struggle to survive, along the coast?

A documentary about the preserve at Oxnard beach, Ormond Wetland Wonderland, will be screened publicly on Feb.11, at 7 p.m., at the Del Norte Regional Recycling and Transfer Station at 111 S. Del Norte Ave. in Oxnard. The presentation of the documentary comes in advance of the City of Oxnard’s final EIR on new development at Ormond.

The story of Ormond Beach has been a constant struggle to survive potential development, the painstaking work to conserve this unique coastal habitat and save its many sea and land birds. Part of that is due to the industrial, agricultural and port businesses that surround and conceal its eastern fringe, west of Hueneme Road. If this has any bearing on Ormond’s survival, then Janet Bridgers’ DVD has already made a step in the right direction.

“I’m pleased with the documentary,” said Bridgers, who wrote and edited the documentary, “because it draws the viewer into a gentle educational experience of surprising scientific depth.”

Having written in the past about conservation issues regarding wetlands and the inner workings of these fragile environments, she shows how this sliver of nature has amazingly survived amongst all the current development it presently endures. But as noted biologist Wayne Ferren explains in the documentary, “Nature finds a way sometimes. We have an opportunity to make it better.”  The eloquent Ferren is featured in the DVD, breaking down the important elements of coastal wetland habitats and their importance, not only to the biodiversity of Ormond, but to society as well. Ferren has plenty of experience in these matters. He was instrumental in saving portions of the Carpinteria Marsh, another wetland surviving 25 miles north of Ormond Beach.

The 30-minute presentation takes the viewer on a virtual tour, explaining the ecology, biology and hydrology of freshwater to saltwater, the impact of one of the last coastal dune habitats buffering the estuary, just a two-mile stretch of beach between the Point Mugu Naval Station and Hueneme Beach. Historically, the wetland once extended beyond Hueneme Road. Ormond isn’t just one habitat, but many working in unison in the tight confines of Oxnard. Its mudflats, intertidal salt marsh, subtidal channels, beach lagoon area, upland habitat and the ocean all play a vital role in the survival of this natural wonder and inhabitants like the globos dune beetle, salt marsh harvest mouse and shrew.  

Ormond is also a birder’s heaven. The documentary does a fine job of showing some of the life cycles of two federally listed species, the western snowy plover and the California least tern, where they breed, nest and raise their chicks above the wrack line of tattered kelp and driftwood before reaching the foredunes of Ormond. Other species of note include the burrowing owl, osprey, Cooper’s and Swainson’s hawks, black-shouldered kite, clapper rail, purple martin, willow flycatcher, California horned lark, common loon, long-billed curlew, bufflehead, Belding savannah sparrow and the impressive black skimmer.

“The documentary has real potential to show people of Ventura County what a valuable resource lies at Ormond,” continued Bridgers. “Hopefully it can help rally needed community support for this biological treasure.”

To learn more about Ormond Beach, call 487-2999, or go to www.ormondbeachwetlands.org.   

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