County Supervisors honor five environmental champions with Earth Day Awards

VENTURA, Calif. – The Board of Supervisors honored five 2018 Ventura County Earth Day Awards recipients at their Tuesday, April 17, 2018 Board meeting. The awards honor individuals and organizations that go above and beyond to support sustainable living and environmentally sound practices in Ventura County.

In District 1, Supervisor Steve Bennett recognized the Thacher School. The Thacher School is a leader in sustainable practices and prepares their students to take action, develop bold solutions, and act as lifelong stewards of the planet. Projects exemplifying those practices include: A new 745 kilowatt solar array generating more than 95 percent of the school’s electricity; the completion of a horse manure and food waste composting facility eliminating the trucking off campus of 1,200 tons of manure and instead composting it on-site for use as mulch on the school’s pastures, fruit trees and landscaping; and, reducing campus water usage to 56 percent of previous years, saving up to 550,000 gallons of water per year by using laundry graywater to irrigate trees, and the installation of a water conserving athletic field which uses about 40 percent less water than a traditional field.

Further, a recent grant allowed Thacher to host a graywater workshop for 30 technicians, resulting in the design and installation of a 5,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system on half of one of the campus barn roofs. As the program continues to expand to other campus buildings, just three inches of rain will provide the potential to collect the 600,000 gallons of water the Horse Program uses annually.

“These actions demonstrate a remarkable commitment to sustainability and earn the Thacher School well-deserved recognition,” said Supervisor Bennett.

In District 2, Supervisor Linda Parks honored the Ventura County Watershed Protection District (WPD) for its Raptor Pilot Study. Furthering Ventura County’s efforts to eliminate the use of harmful anticoagulant rodenticides that have been found to poison area wildlife, the WPD conducted a study that found a natural alternative to controlling rodents.

The WPD Raptor Pilot Study compared the effectiveness of using poison bait stations with an innovative program of using raptor perches and owl boxes to entice raptors to prey on rodents. Over the course of 18 months of study, the WPD found that raptors are more effective at controlling ground squirrels and gophers from burrowing and damaging earthen levees than poisons. The findings of this first-of-its-kind study are significant and provide scientific evidence that can lead government agencies and businesses to change their practices of using poisons to become better environmental stewards. As such, the WPD Raptor Study findings will protect wildlife, including mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and birds of prey, from becoming poisoned by consuming poisoned rodents. WPD’s Raptor Pilot Study has received awards from the American Public Works Association, and the Owl Wise Leader (O.W.L.) Award from Raptors Are The Solution, a project by the Earth Island Institute.

Supervisor Kelly Long recognized the Hedrick Ranch Nature Area Restoration Project in District 3. Hedrick Ranch is a 223-acre riparian preserve along the Santa Clara River. Under the stewardship of the Friends of The Santa Clara River, a restoration project was implemented that stabilized approximately 1,000 linear feet of stream bank, removed invasive plant species, and re-established native riparian vegetation on approximately sixteen acres of land. Additional technical studies were also prepared that included a hydrogeology study and surveys of reptiles and amphibians on the property. A dedicated group of volunteers, led by Sandy Hedrick, worked to help restore the area, pulling weeds by hand and installing pole cuttings of willow, cottonwood and sycamore. The result is a beautiful nature preserve that protects floodplains, riparian areas, and the many birds and wildlife that inhabit the area.

The Rustic Canyon Golf Course Water Reclamation Project took the award in Supervisor Peter Foy’s District 4. The Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Water and Sanitation Department, Waterworks District 1, Moorpark Water Reclamation Facility, California State Department of Water Resources, and Rustic Canyon Golf Course partnered to install a recycled water pipeline and booster pump station that delivers over 135 million gallons of recycled water from the reclamation facility to the golf course and other customers along the pipeline route. By using recycled water, the District is able to offset the need for potable water and more efficiently manage precious water resources while also enhancing environmental sustainability.

Supervisor Foy praised the project saying, “Golf courses provide important recreational outlets for many individuals, including seniors. However the high cost of water is making it difficult to keep them operational. Rustic Canyon has overcome this obstacle by using reclaimed water from the Moorpark Water Reclamation Facility, while at the same time freeing up additional water supplies for residential and commercial customers. It’s a genuine win-win situation.”

In District 5, Supervisor John Zaragoza honored the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation. The Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation’s mission is to address modern-day environmental issues by preserving and utilizing the ancient wisdom of Chumash culture and promoting environmental awareness and responsibility for sustaining the health of the land, air, and water. Its recent white paper, “Agritoxins: Ventura County's Toxic Time Bomb,” documents the inadequate occupational health and safety protections for migrant farm workers and the disparate threats that agritoxins pose to Latino communities and schools in Ventura County. The white paper serves as a foundation to help organize and empower these communities to protect themselves from environmental contaminants. It is also meant to help them gain access and increased interactions with Ventura County’s functioning and beautiful ecosystems.

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