Birds of prey to deter nesting on idle oil field equipment

Think you’ve got problems? Imagine being a pigeon looking for a place to roost only to find that the cozy, one-hole, one-bathroom nest you’ve discovered turned out to be not-so-idle equipment used for the purpose of oil production! To protect these clueless birds from certain harm, Aera Energy has turned to a unique method by which to dissuade nest-building in dangerous locales: falcons and hawks.

The approach uses the hawks and falcons, natural predators, to deter nest-building simply by being present. The nonlethal intervention is considered an environmentally friendly approach.

“Under normal operations, the constant activities and working equipment deters birds from building nests and laying eggs at our gas facility. But when we shut down for testing it’s the most popular place in town,” says Louise Lampara, Aera’s environmental adviser, adding that federal and state regulation prevent the disturbance of a nest if eggs are present and until the chicks have left. “That can take weeks or even months depending on the particular type of bird.”

Master Falconer Paulie Corry will provide the birds, who are considered “no kill.” The birds will either be walked through the facility or kept on a tether, their presence being enough to convince birds to seek shelter elsewhere. Nests currently occupied will be noted and left undisturbed.

“Many of the employees that work at this facility live in Ventura. Some are second or third generation to work on this property and we want to protect it,” said Lampara.

Old-car buyback program returns, $1,000 for certain models

Turn your clunker into hard cash via the return of the Old-Car Buy Back Program, put on by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. Cars, trucks or SUVS manufactured in 1995 or before may be traded in for $1,000.

“This program will reduce air pollutants in a cost-effective manner from light-duty vehicles, which are still a significant contributor to Ventura County’s ozone and particulate matter air pollution,” said Michael Villegas, air pollution control officer.

This year’s program has a budget of $127,500 from the District’s fund to remove 100 older, polluting vehicles from county roads. Interested county residents should call 1-800-717-7624 for more information.

Scholarship applications open for indigenous youth

The Tequio Scholarship Committee of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) has launched its fourth annual scholarship application period, supporting indigenous immigrant youth in the county.

For 2017, the scholarship will fund at least 12 Ventura County youth with indigenous Mexican roots from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero to pursue college degrees.

According to MICOP, there are approximately 20,000 indigenous youth in the county, and high school-aged youth face tough challenges in obtaining college degrees. An average household, headed by parents employed in the berry industry, can expect an annual income between $15,000 and $20,000; farmworker youth often experience pressure to drop out of class to help by getting jobs.

Application deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, May 5. To apply, students may download the application from the MICOP website, www.mixteco.org/tequio/tequio-scholarship-fund.

Service dog group expands into Ventura County

The national nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence has established a new volunteer chapter for support in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The group provides assistance dogs to enhance the lives of people living with disabilities.

The new chapter, dubbed “Valley to Sea,” was established to support clients, donors and volunteers who work with the nonprofit.

“We are excited to bring together our existing constituents with new members through our volunteer chapter to raise awareness and funds for Canine Companions’ life-changing program,” said Elizabeth Howell, Valley to Sea chapter president “As a result, we hope more residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties will benefit from and contribute to Canine Companions.”

For more information, visit www.cci.org.