VENTURA — Recently, a partnership between Wishtoyo Foundation, California State Parks and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) made plans to conduct a feasibility study to see if the popular campground annually flooded during winter storms can be moved down coast to reduce the flooding.
In addition to improving the campground and public access, the project would enhance the adjacent Santa Clara River Estuary to the benefit of endangered Southern California steelhead and other native and endangered species.
During the next year, the joint agency team will work with ecological consultants led by cbec, inc., an eco engineering company that focuses on floodplain and channel management, fluvial and tidal wetland rehabilitation and green urban storm water. With a panel of independent experts the team will study the feasibility of the campground relocation and restoring the estuary to a size approaching its previous footprint.
When the study is completed, alternative restoration concepts and plans will be provided for the restoration and habitat improvement of the estuary lagoon, side channel and/or upland habitat and the development of a new campground farther down the beach. The new campground and restored estuary habitat would offer residents and visitors enhanced coastal access, recreational opportunities, wildlife viewing and educational and cultural experiences.
“The project has tremendous potential co-benefits,” said project manager and Wishtoyo Foundation’s water initiative director, Jason Weiner. “It will potentially rehabilitate 15-35 acres of the Santa Clara River Estuary needed for the recovery and protection of steelhead, a plethora of native birds, and the ecology of the Santa Clara River system, while restoring an unmatched coastal campground experience for residents and visitors that benefits the local economy.”
According to Richard Rozzelle, State Park’s superintendent, the plan is to find a way that mitigates the loss of camping and public access due to flooding at the sate beach while enhancing the significant natural resources.
“We are pleased to partner with Wishtoyo and State Parks on these necessary first steps in the restoration of the Santa Clara River Estuary to help provide habitat for a variety of the native wildlife,” said DFW Senior Fisheries Biologist Mary Larson.
Funding for the feasibility study comes from DFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program with funds granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the McGrath Lake Trustee Council. Wishtoyo Foundation and California State Parks will be providing in-kind funds with a total project study budget exceeding $947,000.