OXNARD, Calif. – A ceremony was held on Saturday, November 7, 2015 to unveil new names for two Ventura County Watershed Protection District channels. The ceremony celebrated a successful Watershed Awareness Campaign and historic public selection of the Oxnard Channels new names: Ormond Lagoon Waterway and tšumaš (Chumash) creek.
Attendees at the event held near Ormond Beach Wetlands in Oxnard included distinguished local, state and federal officials, local Chumash Tribe Barnareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians, Central Coast Alliance United for Sustainable Communities, The Nature Conservancy and several local residents and community members.
Kathy Long, Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, spoke about the importance of renaming the Oxnard Channels and acknowledged a longstanding desire in the community to increase watershed awareness among the public, and to understand the connection the channels have to our unique natural environment.
Representatives of the Chumash Tribe Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians expressed their honor when they saw, for the first time in-person, the signs reflecting the true spelling of the word tšumaš (Chumash).
"This spelling of tšumaš uses the writing system we use today," said Chumash leader Mathew Vestuto. "It's still pronounced the same. With this decision we recognize, and are grateful for, the County of Ventura and its residents' support of our orthography and language revitalization."
Other speakers at the event included Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez, PWA- Watershed District Director Tully Clifford. Lourdes Solorzano attended to represent County Supervisor John C. Zaragoza's office.
The event opened with a traditional Chumash ceremony led by Julie Tumamait-Stenslie and members of the local Chumash Tribe Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians. A short ribbon-cutting revealed new signage for the channels, and attendees witnessed the posting of the new signs for tšumaš creek (Chumash Creek) and Ormond Lagoon Waterway. The waterways were formerly named the Oxnard Industrial Drain and the J Street Drain.
Both channels flow to Ormond Beach, a 1,500 acre area comprised of agriculture, industry and wetlands, that serve as a home to more than 200 migratory bird species. The habitat is recorded as having more shorebird species than any other site in Ventura County, and has been recognized as the most important wetland restoration opportunity in Southern California.
The Oxnard Channels Dedication Ceremony celebrated the nearly 600 students and community members who voted on proposed names for the Oxnard Channels and the County's continued commitment to watershed awareness, supporting the community's dedication to stewardship of these channels.