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Eye on the Environment: Coastal cleanup day on Saturday, Sept. 18, features new Ojai site

web profile low res thumbnail from PWA Emp of Q By David Goldstein, Special to the Ojai Valley News

Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, Sept. 18, and organizers are offering both designated sites for groups as well as options for people who want to do their own self-guided cleanups. The event website, at https://www.vccoastcleanup.org/cleanup-sites/, lists 11 Ventura County beaches and eight inland sites chosen for accessibility and amount of litter, for group cleanups on Sept. 18. Those participating in self-guided cleanups, can pick their own sites and dates in September and record their results on the Clean Swell app. Search for the Clean Swell app at the App Store or on Google Play.

The Ocean Conservancy has on its web site, at https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/cleanswell/ , a downloadable poster with instructions for using the Clean Swell app. This free app features icons to conveniently record what you find, snap photos, provide details (such as who you are with), and post to social media. Volunteers working at their own sites miss out on the free T-shirts available at group sites but can earn an electronic badge instead. After users input data, the app provides the badge, along with congratulations for “a job whale done.”

For those unable to download the app, paper data collection cards are available, in English or Spanish, through www.vccoastcleanup.org, which also has guidelines and resources. Also, even without the app, participants are encouraged to share cleanup experiences on social media, using the hashtags #coastalcleanupday  and #protectyourhappyplace.

The group options, from 9 a.m. to noon at the specified sites, require participants to follow the most recent Ventura County Public Health orders, which are updated regularly at https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/. Social distance where possible, and expect to wear a mask, at least when gathering for supplies and drop-off of collected litter. To further reduce close interaction, print and sign the waiver available on the web site, and bring it with you when you arrive.

In consideration of a different kind of health and safety, wear a hat and apply sunscreen before arriving. To reduce waste, whether participating at the group sites or on your own, bring your own reusable bucket, gloves, and water bottle.

Since inland litter often ends up at the ocean, the inland sites organized for group cleanup events are generally along waterways, including Calleguas Creek, in Camarillo; Sespe Creek, in Fillmore; Conejo Creek, in Thousand Oaks; Arroyo Simi, in Simi Valley; and the Santa Clara River, in Ventura.

Those have also been sites in past years, but a group site in Ojai is new this year. Volunteers are meeting at 9 a.m. at a location to be revealed by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy only in response to RSVPs, which should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

From the meeting site, up to 20 volunteers will proceed to the Ventura River Confluence Preserve, where San Antonio Creek meets with the Ventura River. When water flows, litter is deposited on the shores of that area, but the entire site is dry now, creating a good opportunity for litter removal, according to Adam Morrison, the Conservancy’s Volunteer and Events Coordinator. There is some poison oak by the stream, so the Conservancy will provide litter collection tools, but volunteers should wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes.

Morrison said he hopes Coastal Cleanup volunteers will enjoy the experience enough to return for year-round volunteer opportunities with the conservancy. Although volunteer work in the organization’s office was suspended as a COVID-19 protection, and the conservancy already has enough help with its plant propagation nursery, Morrison has upcoming opportunities for volunteers to help with field projects such as trail building, trail maintenance, and plant restoration.

Litter cleanup at sites protected by the Ojai Land Conservancy became increasingly important last year, as some of Ventura County’s most prized nature areas became crowded with people excluded from closed hiking spots in Los Angeles. Some Ventura County sites affected by the influx of people and litter, such as the Punch Bowls Trail near Santa Paula, and Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks, shut down. Crowds also swarmed and littered Ojai’s trails. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy hired extra workers to act as docents in sensitive areas.

Those participating in Coastal Cleanup on their own this year are encouraged by Coastal Cleanup Day outreach material to “Protect your happy place,” wherever that may be. This could be a nearby park or your own neighborhood.

Last year, the event was entirely self-guided, with no central organization of group cleanup sites. Ventura County had 1,046 registered participants. This was far more than comparable counties and almost as many volunteers as Los Angeles.

The California Coastal Commission leads efforts statewide; Lara Shellenbarger, of the Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Watershed Protection District, is the countywide coordinator for Ventura County; and each site has its own site captain. As always, data collection is one of the priorities of organizers.

Eben Schwartz, Marine Debris program manager of California Coastal Commission, stressed the importance of the data collection element of Coastal Cleanup Day, “The data have been used to identify the most problematic types of litter, resulting in legislative initiatives.” As examples, he cited California’s ban on single-use, plastic, grocery bags, and Assembly Bill 1080, which is currently stalled in the Legislature but is expected to be considered again. Also, in 2022, California voters will consider an initiative requiring new regulations to reduce single-use plastic packaging and enacting a 1-cent per item fee on single-use packaging and foodware, according to www.Ballotpedia.org

For more information:
www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/ccd/ccd.html  
www.vccoastcleanup.org/ 
www.oceanconservancy.org 

— David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with Ventura County Public Works, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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