Over 1,000 area homes energy-efficient via HERO program

Who needs a hero when you ARE one? At least, an environmental hero, as over 1,000 Ventura County homeowners have made environmentally friendly upgrades to their homes via the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program.

PACE enables homeowners to make energy and efficiency improvements and to pay for them over time at a fixed interest rate through an additional line item on their property taxes. Since the program’s inception at the state level, and adoption in Ventura County in the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, over 2,300 energy efficiency, water-efficiency or solar-power improvements have been made.

Loans provided by the program go toward providing a wide variety of drought-resistant technologies and landscaping. For more information, visit www.PACENation.us or www.heroprogram.com/ca/central-coast.

CSUCI receives fifth straight Tree Campus recognition

Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves and dreams of trees untold,
when woodland halls are green and cool,
and the wind is in the west, come back to me,
come back to me, and say my land is best.

– Treebeard, The Lord of the Rings

For the fifth straight year, California State University, Channel Islands, has been deemed a Tree Campus by the Arbor Day Foundation for its dedication to healthy trees, creek restoration and drought-tolerant landscapes.

CSUCI was the first of the 23 CSU schools to receive the designation in 2013, and joins 296 other two- and four-year universities nationwide with the 2016 designation. Student volunteers, staff and faculty planted 70 more trees in 2016, including western redbuds, ironwoods, valley oaks and coast live oaks, with the goal of holding tree-planting events to balance old-growth die off, increasing the campus tree canopy to 40 percent by 2020. Currently, the canopy is at 30 percent.

Climate change forum next month

League of Women Voters of Ventura County, along with Ventura College, will host “Climate Change iIs Here to Stay … So What’s Next?” on Saturday, May 6. The event will feature a panel of experts discussing the topic of climate change.

The League is a nonpartisan political organization that hosts panels of this nature regularly. At the climate-change event, guest speakers include: David Lea, professor of Earth Science in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC, Santa Barbara, whose major research interest is climate change; Sangwon Suh, professor of corporate environmental management and industrial ecology and life cycle assessment in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC, Santa Barbara; and Jim Hines, chair of the Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The event is open to the public and will be held at Ventura College’s Applied Science Center, 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura. For more information, visit www.lwvventuracounty.org.

Ojai hiking trails to get much needed upgrades

Two of Ojai’s much beloved trails and trailheads will now be getting some much needed attention after the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy adopted the Pratt Trailhead and the Pratt Trail up to the Foothill Trail, and the Gridley Trailhead and the Gridley Trail up to Fuelbreak Road Trail.

The Conservancy participates in the U.S. Forest Service’s Adopt a Trail Program, which utilizes local volunteers to help maintain trails. For more information on the trails and the Conservancy, visit www.ovlc.org.

Offshore oil rig to be decommissioned, removed

Venoco LLC filed for bankruptcy on Monday, April 17, effectively quitclaiming its leases in the South Ellwood Field in Goleta and for Platform Holly, an offshore drilling rig in the Santa Barbara Channel. State Lands Commission will take over the leases while the California Coastal Sanctuary Act prohibits the issuance of any new offshore oil and gas leases. Platform Holly, which had been considered for decommissioning by Venoco in September, had stopped producing oil after the Refugio Oil Spill in May 2015. The decommission and removal of Platform Holly is expected to take three years while, according to the State Lands Commission, approximately 85.1 million barrels of recoverable oil remain in the ground.

“As someone who has long opposed offshore oil drilling because of its impact on our environment, and fought to prevent any new offshore oil drilling in state waters in our community, I am excited and pleased by today’s news. This marks the end of an era of offshore oil production in this location, and we will never again go back,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

Earth Day awards for county orgs, people

Ventura County Supervisors selected five organizations and/or people from their respective districts to honor their eco-friendly efforts this week for Earth Day. The awards are as follows:

District 1: Supervisor Steve Bennett
The Matilija Coalition is an alliance of community groups, businesses, and individuals committed to the environmental restoration of the Ventura River watershed. Current core members of the Coalition include Paul Jenkin, Surfrider Foundation and Founder and coordinator of the Matilija Coalition; Hans Cole, Patagonia, Inc.; Candice Meneghin, CalTrout; Matt Stoecker, Stoecker Ecological; Diane Underhill and Kathy Bremer with Friends of the Ventura River.

District 2: Supervisor Linda Parks
Dr. Sean Anderson is a professor and incoming chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Resource Management at California State University, Channel Islands.

District 3: Supervisor Kelly Long
The Port of Hueneme Oxnard Harbor District is not only a powerful engine for economic growth and job creation, but also promotes an ambitious environmental agenda through its Environmental Management Framework.

District 4: Supervisor Peter Foy
Rancho Simi Park and Recreation District has been active with several projects that preserve the natural landscape and habitat of the area, and encourage residents to enjoy the beautiful parks and outdoor recreation in Simi Valley.

District 5: Supervisor John Zaragoza
For decades, Nancy Pedersen of Oxnard has championed efforts in her community to protect beaches and wetlands, and to expand the benefits of community gardens.