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Board votes for wildlife conservation measures

New laws to affect homeowners, businesses

Hills+pictured+by+Tierra+Rejada+Road+in+Simi+Valley+will+be+one+of+three+potential+wildlife+corridor+zones.
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Board votes for wildlife conservation measures

Hills pictured by Tierra Rejada Road in Simi Valley will be one of three potential wildlife corridor zones.

Hills pictured by Tierra Rejada Road in Simi Valley will be one of three potential wildlife corridor zones.

Ross Gelick/Talon

Hills pictured by Tierra Rejada Road in Simi Valley will be one of three potential wildlife corridor zones.

Ross Gelick/Talon

Ross Gelick/Talon

Hills pictured by Tierra Rejada Road in Simi Valley will be one of three potential wildlife corridor zones.

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Ventura County may soon have additional regulations on construction, fencing, and outdoor lighting to encourage animal migration. On March 12, the Ventura Board of Supervisors met to discuss the establishment of a wildlife corridor in the near future to encourage the passing of wildlife from different mountain ranges that are normally cut off from each other due to human settlement.

The net cost for the plan is estimated to be just over $4.5 million.

“The Ventura County Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend the proposal to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, but added a laundry list of suggestions for changes,” Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council Vice Chair Jane Nye wrote. “Ventura County Board of Supervisors Linda Parks has been a strong advocate for the proposal to amend the General Plan.”

In a letter to the public, the board defines a wildlife corridor as “Linear spaces that connect the various areas of an animal’s habitat, and serve as links between feeding, watering, resting and breeding places. These corridors are especially important to larger, wider-ranging animal species.” Wildlife corridors are planned for the Oak View, Tierra Rejada and Simi Hills areas.

The plan aims to create a ‘Dark Sky overlay’ zone, as light pollution has been shown to have a significant effect on wildlife. This will require homeowners to limit outdoor lighting, use warmer lights and require lights to be shielded and pointed downwards.

Another goal of the plan is to increase regulations on ‘riparian’ areas near streams, rivers and other bodies of water. These areas provide an important area for numerous animal species to rest, mate and drink. The plan proposes establishing a 200-foot buffer zone from the furthest point of the riparian area. No new construction, fencing or vegetation will be allowed in this zone without an exception. Restoration of existing structures is allowed. Brush that could aid wildfire will be allowed to be cleared as well as invasive plant species.

The plan will also create wildlife crossing structures: underpasses, bridges or drainage culverts. These will be explicitly for animal use, in an effort to encourage migration and decrease mortality rates of animals attempting to cross highways.

The Wildlife Corridor is supported by many conservation organizations including California Chaparral Institute, Friends of the Ventura River and Los Padres Forest Watch, in addition to many homeowners.

However, some have concerns, including CEO of the Ventura County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, David Jones. In a letter to the board, Jones inquired about how the measure would impact two Scout camps, Camp Willet and Camp Three Falls. He was mostly concerned with the ability for new construction, camp lighting and the legality of clearing brush.

David Dassler, the Remediation Program Manager at Boeing, asked for an exemption from a section of the new regulations in a letter to the board.

“Boeing, The Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be conducting environmental remediation at the Santa Susana property and will need to install solid/wildlife impermeable fencing and use bright outdoor lighting during the remediation work for safety, protection of cultural resources, and other purposes,” Dassler wrote in the letter.

Dassler also emphasized the care Boeing has for the environment.

“Boeing supports the public and private entities who have proposed building a wildlife crossing across U.S. Route 101 (US-101) just west of Liberty Canyon Road to help maintain wildlife populations … We donated $100,000 to the National Wildlife Federation to complete environmental studies and designs for the wildlife crossing [bridge across the US 101],” Dassler said. “Boeing also recently donated $75,000 to support the National Park service’s ongoing mountain lion research project in California.”

Nye categorized those who opposed the project.

“The opponents were mostly developers, oil industry lobbyists, ranchers and various wildlife opponents who disagreed with the ordinance,” Nye said.

However, Nye said homeowners believed they would be impacted as well.

“Much of the opposition was based on misinformation about how the ordinance would impact individual landowners,” Nye said. “Some landowners believed the ordinance would prevent them from establishing and maintaining defensible space around structures … However, the ordinance language specifically allows broad exemptions for vegetation modification related to fire risk reduction — a point that was confirmed by the Ventura County Fire Protection District at the hearing and in writing.”

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About the Writer
Kellen Beckett, Art Director

Kellen Beckett is a junior at Oak Park High School. He is currently the 2018-19 Art Director.

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