After our successful restoration project along Ojai Creek in Libbey Park, we are pleased to announce that The United States Department of Fish and Wildlife awarded another grant to the Ojai Valley Green Coalition’s Watershed Committee! We have received $25,000 to restore the next section of Ojai Creek adjacent to the original project site (which extends from behind the tennis courts to the bike path). Volunteers are needed at four upcoming Saturday volunteer days: October 30 and November 6, 13, and 20 - can you join us?
Volunteers can just show up, but should check in by 9:30 a.m. at the Libbey Park Gazebo in downtown Ojai to receive an initial training before work begins. Wear sturdy shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. If you own them, please bring your own gloves and shovel; otherwise, tools will be provided. The workdays will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those under the age of 18 will need a liability release waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
Over 100 volunteers helped last fall. Ojai Creek bordering Libbey Park now has native plants, including two species of willow trees, reestablishing themselves along its banks. Willows maintain the integrity of the banks and provide habitat and forage for a variety of wildlife, including two federally protected species of birds—the southwest willow flycatcher and the least Bell’s vireo. Other reemerging natives include mulefat, mugwort, and coyote brush that will attract abundant wildlife and recreate a diverse and species-rich environment.
One of the ways that human activities affect the watershed is by introducing non-native plant species. Certain invasive plants such as giant reed (Arundo donax) choke the stream system, curtailing wildlife migration and making it impossible for other plants to establish themselves. During the upcoming phase of the project, twelve non-native palm trees will be removed prior to the volunteer participation days.
According to ecologist and project director Brian Holly, palms are, with few exceptions, not native to our Southern California river systems. The invasive palms at the restoration site (Canary Island date palms and Mexican fan palms) have become prolific in our streams and take up great quantities of water as they out-compete native plants. An onsite biologist will monitor the palm removal to protect the existing native species and ensure that the trunk and canopy of each palm is removed, so that no seeds are left in the streambed. Volunteers will help remove brush, clean up the area, and plant native species in the place of every palm removed.
Holly is excited about this collaboration between Ojai volunteers and the state and local governments to create a healthy creek environment that positively affects the entire watershed. He hopes to promote an interest in our creeks and a sense of stewardship throughout the community. Last year’s volunteers included teachers, students, and citizens who wanted to be out in nature working as a community to improve the environment. Don't miss out on the opportunity to help with this next stage of the Ojai Creek Restoration Project!