Cooperative commitment brings continued conservation
The IssueCentral coast wetlands in Ventura County, bordering a federal superfund cleanup site and long used as an industrial dumping ground, were in desperate need of restoration and renewal. Youth, families and communities near the wetlands experience general low rates of environmental connection and education. As with most other areas of our state, childhood obesity rates in surrounding communities are on a troubling upward trend.
What Has ANR Done?Several years ago, the Ormond Beach wetlands area became an approved Master Gardener project site. Decades of industrial waste were removed by the ton with the help of community groups and the City of Oxnard. Much research and work went into creating seed banks of native plants to restore coastal wetland vegetation.
In 2009 and 2010, UCCE Sea Grant advisor Monique Myers led the RESTOR project, a grant-funded wetlands/ecological restoration program linking teachers and youth with science education and community service opportunities at Ormond Beach. More than 1,000 middle-school-aged youth participated.
In 2011, 4-H All Stars designated the Ormond Beach wetlands as the location for their service project. They created a walking trail complete with 10 exercise points. Exercises feature yoga poses and other meditative exercises in tune with the natural setting. The All Stars will also be identifying native plants and birds and include this information along the walking path. The youth are working with community groups, government agencies, and local business to make their dream a reality. The trail opened in April 2012.
Strengthening communities one step at a timeA walking trail with exercise stations throughout a nature preserve will provide many positive benefits for families and the community. Increased physical activity can help to reduce obesity, and time spent together can strengthen families. Continual renewal and restoration to a local environmental treasure brings awareness, appreciation and pride to neighboring communities. The youth leading this ambitious project will gain leadership and life skills to last a lifetime.
Supporting Unit: Ventura CountyRose Hayden-Smith