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Restoring the Ventura River

Steve Schalla  | Published on 2/21/2015
 "Ventura River Restoration- one tree at a time "


From Left to Right: Paul Wilson, Theresa Bulla, Dennis Harper, Bob Smith, Earl Arnold, Chris May, Gary Bulla.

On February 14, 2009, seven members of the Sespe Fly Fishers in Ventura California met on the banks of the Ventura River just below the confluence of San Antonio Creek near Ojai , California . The objective was to plant 47 trees on the riverbank and adjacent area. The area is a restoration project named the Confluence Preserve under the management of the Ojai Valley Nature Conservancy. This portion of the Preserve is a conservation easement on a private ranch. The flood of 2005 washed several acres of the ranch downstream. The Conservancy received grant funding to stabilize, restore, and protect the stream bank and remaining ranchland.

Some estimates indicate that prior to modern mans intervention and diversion of the natural water flow, the Ventura River watershed could have supported over 20,000 spawning steelhead. In more modern times, prior to ground water pumping and the installation of the Matilija and Casitas dams, the river had been home to an annual run of approximately 2,500 to 5,000 steelhead. Recent returns of the endangered Southern Steelhead are down to about 10 fish per year. The Ventura River is a targeted stream for steelhead recovery. Preserving and restoring the riparian zone of the river is vital to the steelhead recovery effort.

The Conservancy prepared the site by placing rock groins in the flat streambed overflow area, installed an irrigation system and mulched the site for weed control. What they needed were trees and planting labor.


. Chouinard Presentation: Names left to right Dennis Harper, Club Conservation Chairman: Yvon Chouinard,:Paul Wilson, Club President: Gary Bulla, Club Programs Chairman

The Sespe Fly Fisher's project had been in the planning stage for over a year. The club was looking for a meaningful way to express recognition of the commitment Yvon Chouinard, owner of Patagonia , has made to the club and the environment. Yvon's efforts have a world-wide impact. Dennis Harper, the club's Conservation Chairman along with Gary Bulla, the club's Program Chairman researched the options for recognition of Yvon. A local area conservation project was ideal. They investigated several sites for a tree planting project. The club members provided the funds which had been donated for conservation efforts. Fifteen Sycamores, 15 Cottonwoods and 5 Coastal Live Oaks were purchased for the project. OVLC Program Manager Derek Poultney and Stevie Adams, the Ventura River Confluence Project Manager, provided guidance and coordination leading to a perfect wedding of the club's desire and the Conservancy's needs

Another Tree Planting along the Ventura River..... one year later!!

Tree Planting Feb. 13, 2010. Left to right- Dennis Harper, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy-Rick Bisaccia, Burnie Grange, Jeff Hereford, Carl Rhoads, Chris May, Alan Monteath, Maria Mondragon, Mike Ogden, California Conservation Corps Chris Lima , David Boyden, Theresa Bulla, Gary Bulla. Photo by Earl Arnold. 12 people from the club, 63 trees.

The Sespe Fly Fishing Club planted 63 native trees at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC) Rice Creek restoration site on Saturday, Feb 13, 2010. A total of 14 club members turned out on a beautiful sunny morning. We planted 25 black cottonwoods, 25 sycamores, 3 black walnuts and 10 blue elderberries.
This is a continuation of the Sespe Club?s recognition of Yvon Chouinard?s commitment to preservation of the environment and support for local conservation efforts.
The Federation of Fly Fishers included an article on last year?s planting day in "The Flyfisher"? magazine winter edition.

Tree Planting for 2011

The 2011 Sespe Club tree planting was on Saturday, Feb 19. We met at 9:00 am at 370 Baldwin Road, Ojai CA at the entrance gate to the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC). There is a large parking area inside the entrance. We parked there and formed a carpool to drive into the project.. We planted trees furnished by the OVLC at the confluence area of Rice Creek and the Ventura River in an area that had been cleared of arrundo. This year the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC) donated the trees and we furnished the tools and volunteers. The project was coordinated with Rick Bisaccia of OVLC who provided direction on proper planting procedures.
This is an activity that has had good support and has been a very worthwhile endeavor for our club. The tree planting is dedicated to Yvon Chouinard in recognition of his tremendous support of the environment, our community and our club.The Sespe Fly Fishers also received a small grant from the SWCFFF for supporting this conservation effort.