February 2, 2018 Article in Ventura Star and Ojai Valley News
A NEW VISION FOR OJAI by Peggy LaCerra
The devastation wrought by the Thomas Fire and the economic depression coming in its wake is providing the Ojai and greater Ventura County communities with a profound opportunity to envision and cultivate this region as a national center for eco-education and eco-tourism businesses.
We are home to a growing number of individuals and groups with expertise in innovative sustainable land practices (e.g., sustainable soil management, regenerative agriculture, permaculture, food forests and water management) as well as earthquake- and fire-resistant architecture (e.g., super-adobe, straw bale, ceramic building), and could be at the forefront of the sustainability movement.
The development of Ojai as a statewide, national and, ultimately, global eco-education tourism economy in this era of extreme climate change would greatly broaden our city’s and region’s economic base in the best and worst of times. The realization of this vision would reinvigorate our economy and provide much needed social support in the form of reasonable living wages, affordable housing opportunities and artisanal apprenticeships that could feed into eco-educational tourism businesses.
This is the perfect location for conferences focused on fires, floods, drought and earthquakes and targeting professional societies, government agencies, civic planners and other interested groups and individuals.
This is a perfect moment to plant the seeds of a new vision: Ojai and Ventura County as a world center for environmental sustainability.
Ojai Fire Safe Council http://firesafeojai.org/
Ojai Valley Restoration and Resiliency Council of Ojai Valley Green Coalition group started from Ojai Valley Habitat Coalition
Google Group: OVRRC@googlegroups.com
#1- January 6 Ojai Valley Habitat Coalition at Daly Rd
#2 – January 14 of Ojai Valley Habitat Coalition at Ojai Library
Noah Crowe article published in the Ojai Valley News February 2, 2018
#3 February 3 of Ojai Valley Habitat Coalition at Ojai Library
#4 March 10 of Ojai Restoration and Resiliency Council of Ojai Valley Green Coalition at Ojai Library
By Kit Stolz Article in VC Reporter about Rick Halsey Talk: Surviving a Firestorm
Saturday, February 17th is a walk and talk with Rick Halsey. Click this link for more info“After The Fire: Making Our Landscapes More Resilient” — A Workshop with Richard Halsey @ Meet at AT&T Parking Lot Feb 17 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thomas Fire leaves neighborhoods vulnerable to mudflows, flooding Cheri Carlson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 805-437-0260 http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/2017/12/28/thomas-fire-leaves-neighborhoods-vulnerable-mudflows-flooding/985990001/
December 28, 2017 – As the initial fear, shock and panic prompted by the Thomas fire begins to fade, I realize how ill prepared we were and the critical need for more information to help us understand, cope and become more resilient in these changing times. The high wind speed combined with five years of below average rainfall brought the landscape to a critical state. I’m looking to others for help to understand, explain and adapt to this new climate change. Thanks to Kit Stolz for a recent article in the Ojai Quarterly Winter 2017-2018 p.112 theojai.net on thinking globally and acting locally in the age of hotter temperatures and altered ecosystems. I’m also following Daniel Swain of http://weatherwest.com/ who was the first to notice and post on Facebook about the hot spots forming in Santa Paula from the Thomas Fire.
From Daniel Swain’s website http://weatherwest.com
All of California is now experiencing well-below-average precipitation for the season to date. Southern California has seen almost no precipitation at all. (WRCC).
A little history — I’ve heard Richard speak several times — he came to Ojai on March 14 2015 to speak on the Chaparral ecosystems at the invitation of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. https://ovlc.org/chaparral-ecosystem-rick-halsey-chaparral-institute/ I was at that talk and walk. Richard explained the fire hazards and risks and lessons learned for areas located in Chaparral biomes, then we went for a walk along the Ventura River to better understand the growth/recovery patterns of Chaparral plants.
- Chaparral plants do return if there is adequate rainfall the year following the fire. The high heats of this type of fire are best for recovery of chaparral. Hydrophobic soils should not be a concern given the rock formations and soil properties in the mountains above Ojai. Ceanothus might not come back if rainfall is very low. Thinning out vegetation and creating defensible space should start now, but care needs to be taken not to remove plants that were burned but may still spring back to life after it rains.
- When seasonal rainfall begins, erosion and flooding could still be a concern along roadways, creeks and barrancas.
- Creating and maintaining proper defensible space is something that can be done now, but the first order of business is to examine the home and reduce its flammability directly. See Protecting Your Home From Fire, more information here and info below on roof top irrigation systems.
- Wild birds do not eat packaged birdseed, they survive mostly on insects and seasonal berries or seeds. Most bird species will eat almost anything when the chips are down. A fair number of wild birds that inhabit suburban communities like finches and sparrows do indeed eat packaged bird seed. Here is a link to Plants and Animals of the Chaparral. In Ojai, the best way to support wildlife is to create wildlife gardens with habitat (food, water, shelter) to support wildlife. We would need to create a local list of CA Native plant species for our area. See Resources below.
- A good way to protect property in the wild land urban interface corridor that is vulnerable to fire damage is to install roof top irrigations systems, with diesel powered pumps and a water supply from either a pool, pond or rain tank/cistern. Property owner would be able to evacuate yet keep the residential area hydrated with a dedicated irrigation system. Doing a quick google search, I found more info on roof top sprinkler systems here and your website has a good section on external sprinklers,
with more instructions in this paper
Mitchell JW Ex Sprinklers 2006
- There is some concern for all the dozers used to create fire break roads that disturb the soil and bring in weeds/grasses, which burn rapidly, are invasive and trigger more wildland fires. Many people blame clogged forests and too many trees for our fires, when in fact trees had nothing to do it them at all. These were chaparral and grassland fires. This forest issue is one of the major misconceptions you work with.
- Ojai could market itself for ecotourism by promoting wildflower blooms in fire recovery areas (not sure where but usually around March or April) depending on rainfall.
(thank you Laura Maher for your help!)
by Richard W. Halsey