Outdoor Observer

Outdoor Observer

A field trip to Channel Islands National Park is a rite of passage for Ventura County students, and I fondly recall my first voyage to Anacapa with classmates about 30 years ago. But since the faltering economy has limited what schools and parents can afford to spend on excursions, a private charity has stepped in to help.

Channel Islands Restoration is focused on planting native vegetation and removing invasive species like ice plant on all eight Channel Islands, as well as the mainland coastline. It also organizes island field trips for local schools. It’s always seeking grants and donations to help educate kids about the environment.

Executive director Ken Owen says they sponsored 27 school field trips this year, and also help prepare kids for the trip. “We actually work with them in the classroom ahead of time with environmental education that consists of talking about ocean pollution, the connection between our watersheds and our city streets and the ocean, and even how that pollution affects animals on the islands. So the kids learn about the consequences of dumping trash in our streets and our storm drains, and then they actually get to go out to the Channel Islands,” says Owen.

A trip to Anacapa is both exciting and educational, according to Owen. “It’s really great because we’re targeting low-income school districts, and these are mostly kids who have never been on a boat in their entire lives, or even visited a national park. They get an opportunity to take a field trip and see marine mammals, dolphins, whales, and then visit these gorgeous islands right off of our coast,” says Owen. “They get a chance to visit there and actually help heal the islands and make them better, by working on a service project, either removing ice plant or planting native plants. And also they get a good opportunity to tour the island and have a fun day.”

Owen grew up in Simi Valley and also remembers his first trip to the islands with his school. He’s encouraging local businesses to sponsor trips. “It’s impossible for schools to afford a trip to Anacapa anymore, and it’s sad because a lot of us had a chance to do that when we were kids, and now that kind of field trip is just out of reach,” says Owen. “It’s both a bus and a boat ride, and by the time you add that up for a class of 30 kids and some chaperones, it equals a couple thousand dollars. That’s just too expensive for them, so that’s one of the things we do is, raise the money to make that possible. And it’s not easy.”

The group also welcomes adults to join them on frequent restoration projects, including ones to Anacapa where they usually get a free ride on park service vessels. It has a native plant nursery on Anacapa where it grows things like giant coreopsis. The group plans, by 2016, to remove from east Anacapa Island all the ice plant by 2016 that was planted by the Coast Guard during the 1930s for erosion control.

It also recently completed a project to remove ice plant from the banks of a creek at Carpinteria State Beach and plant native riparian species. “Right away, after we started planting, we noticed some of the native birds hunting insects in our plants,” says Owen. “That’s exactly the kind of thing we want to see happen.”

More information on opportunities to help with the mission is available on the Internet at www.cirweb.org

Outdoor Observer

Outdoor Observer

When people run around the track at Ventura High School they might be treading on a surface made from their old shoes. That’s one of the surprising things I learned while investigating exactly what should go into recycling bins.

My wife, Dawn, asked me to find out because of confusion in our own home. We knew that cans, newspapers and glass bottles were recyclable, but what about cardboard covered in colored dyes or the various types of drink containers?

I toured Ventura’s Gold Coast Recycling and Transfer Station to see how recyclables in our curbside bin get separated and shipped off to become new products. It’s affiliated with the county’s largest trash haulers, Harrison Industries, which collects recyclables from across Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, with the exceptions of Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Santa Paula.

I watched recycling trucks drive into a cavernous building. Machines fed the growing pile into huge contraptions that shook and spun it to separate heavier stuff like glass and metal from lighter items like paper and plastic. Workers further separated items passing along conveyor belts and kept a close eye out for things that should be kept out of landfills, like hazardous items and coins.

Nan Drake is director of governmental affairs and public relations and says people are surprised by how much stuff can now be diverted from landfills. “All newspaper, all of your junk mail, including the shiny stuff,” says Drake.

Glass containers are recyclable, with the exception of things like ceramic coffee mugs. “The major user of glass is the wine industry, and you wouldn’t want a piece of pottery in your wine jug,” says Drake.

Styrofoam is not recyclable in Ventura County. Even though it’s possible to recycle it, Drake says it’s not worth the effort. “Diversion is about percentages, so we go after the heavier items,” says Drake. “Styrofoam is like bagging nothing.”

Other things that can’t be recycled are cardboard containers coated in wax that can’t be mixed in with other paper-based products.

Drake says consumer choice can convince companies to stop putting products in containers that can’t be recycled. “If you don’t buy a manufacturer’s product, they get it, and then they go to a different type of material,” says Drake.

They do recycle the thin plastic shopping bags now banned by some cities, but Drake discourages their use because so many blow away and cause environmental problems.

Batteries and broken electronic devices cannot go to landfills. People should drop them off at the facility; and short of that, it’s better to put them in recycling bins instead of mixing with garbage, for easier retrieval.

Hazardous waste like pesticides and paint also needs special handling. Most cities offer periodic drop-off days for that stuff, and Harrison collects them twice a month at its facility.

It also accepts antifreeze and used motor oil at the transfer station located at 5275 Colt St. If people want to make money for their recycling, they can drop it off themselves.

Harrison also handles plant materials that are reused for agricultural products. Food waste may be recycled in the future and used to generate electricity.

After scratching the surface of this topic, it became clear that there’s a lot to it. The laws are changing and mandatory diversion rates will grow from 50 to 75 percent in coming years.

Gold Coast has a website with videos and further explanation at www.goldcoastrecycling.com.

The old athletic shoes go to Nike for use in products that include playground equipment and running tracks.








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