by Kimberly Rivers
kimberly@vcreporter.com

County promoting protection of monarch butterflies

Last month the Ventura County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a policy protecting monarch butterfly habitat and promoting the planting of their main food source, native milkweed, on county-owned properties. 

The item was brought forward by Board Chair Linda Parks (Dist. 2). In a written statement, she said the policy is consistent with recent revisions the board made to zoning ordinances that “require, among other things, use of pesticide-free, native plants, and planting of flowering plants that support pollinator insects such as bees and butterflies.”

An emphasis on native milkweed is important because non-native varieties flower at different times and can interrupt the patterns of pollinators. 

“Ventura County is really important for the recovery of western monarchs. The planting of pesticide-free native milkweed in our area is vital to their recovery,” said Dr. Catherine Darst with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The county is one of several coastal areas that provide winter respite for the monarchs and population counts have been declining. Two decades ago, the population was estimated to be about 1.2 million; today it’s stated at about 2000. The board also will be adding protection of western monarchs to its state and federal legislative agenda. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently labeled the western monarch as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

 Public comment on oil well stimulation phase-out

The California Department of Conservation, Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGem), the state oil and gas regulatory agency, has released draft regulations that will end permitting for well stimulation treatments by 2024. 

The public comment period on the draft regulations is active now through July 4, 2021. 

Written comments can be submitted to CalGEMRegulations@conversation.ca.gov. Those with questions regarding the comment period can call 916-322-3080. 

The draft regulation language is online at www.conservation.ca.gov/index/Documents/Discussion%20Draft-WST%20phase-out%20final.pdf

California State Parks studying sea level rise adaptation

The California State Parks system has released a guide on how the department will approach coastal management as climate change brings sea level rise and extreme weather events. 

Initial funding and implementation of the plan is going to the San Diego region, but the Parks department reports that the “vulnerability assessment template” in the guide can be applied to all coastal districts in the State Park System. 

“Like many places along California’s coastline, several coastal park units have already experienced the impacts of severe erosion and flooding,” said Armando Quintero, director of California State Parks. “State Parks views these impacts as an opportunity to learn more about sea level rise now and adapt future actions to help preserve our treasured public lands so future generations can enjoy them.” 

The guide lays out methods for the department to incorporate sea level rise issues into ongoing department planning and project development. The strategy of the parks department says “holistic” assessments that examine public access, recreation, natural and cultural resources must be part of responding to sea level rise issues at sites under the department’s jurisdiction.  

VC COVID-19 Update

On May 24, Ventura County reported 53 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend and 9,444 new tests. According to county reports, 67% of those in the county 18 and over, and 63% of those 12 and over, have received the first dose of the vaccine. 

Vaccinations are now available without an appointment. All residents 12 and over are eligible to receive free vaccinations. A large vaccine clinic welcoming walk-ins is still active at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura. Other sites are listed online at www.vcrecovers.com. Appointments can be made at myturn.ca.gov or by calling 833-422-4255.

Free construction training program

Those interested in joining the construction trades now have an opportunity for early training for free. Women, youth, veterans and those with past history in the justice system are encouraged to apply for a free, 12-week training program designed to prepare participants for formal, paid apprenticeships in the construction trades. 

The Workforce Development Board of Ventura County (WDB), along with the Boards of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, in partnership with the California Building Trades Council, are offering a pre-apprenticeship training program at no cost to participants. 

The program follows the training curriculum of North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU) and includes 120 hours over construction industry overview, introducing enrollees to blueprint reading, basic construction math, tools and materials and construction health and safety. The course also highlights “clean and green construction,” which is viewed as “an emerging in-demand skill,” according to the WDB. 

No previous experience is required. Course begins June 1 and will meet twice a week, 5:30-8:30 p.m. via Zoom with three, in-person, half-day Saturday sessions. Details and application information is online at apprenticeship.tcbtcc-slo-sb-vta.org/apply or call 805-477-5306.