The Backyard Collective brings together member company teams for a day of volunteer action in their own backyard. For this event, we truly were in Patagonia's backyard, making improvements to the Ventura River Parkway area and preparing it for a public opening scheduled for Summer 2013.
As Lee Sherman, Development Manager for the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, explained to me, the Ventura River provides the water supply for the entire area. It also provides habitat for wildlife, birds and riparian plants that contribute to the health of the river. Years ago, the construction of a levee and California Highway 33 separated Ventura from its river and created an ideal "hiding place" for homeless people in their own separate community. For decades, this area was home to hundreds of illegal homeless encampments and was often called "hobo jungle."
Eviction Day, a documentary recently screened in the Ventura Wild & Scenic Film Festival tells the story of a coordinated effort that took place in September 2012. There are many entities focused on this very complex issue for a long-term solution centered on social and environmental improvements.
With the efforts of Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, the city and other NGOs, the area is being restored. It was our honor to partner with them bringing 130+ volunteers out to clear out Arundo Donax (Giant Cane – a tall perennial that is invasive in this area) as well as make trail improvements and plant native willow trees.
Together we removed over 5 tons of trash from the river bottom, removed 3 tons (about two acres) of Arundo Donax and improved a mile of trails to provide better wildlife viewing in the areas closest to the river.
Ventura Hillsides Conservancy Conservation Manager Derek Poultney said it well, “In the thick of some pretty dense poison oak, this effort took a lot of heart.”
To cap it all off nearly 200 willow trees were planted.
Please join us in thanking all of the following for their contributions to the day that exceeded expectations:
- The Deckers Event Team who brought their staging truck, a PA system and fantastic media support.
- The Toads with Kate Larramendy assisted in coordinating with Himalaya, our event caterer, as well as provided coordination and delivery of sweet treats and Peet's coffee.
- Wonderful hospitality from the Patagonia team enabled us to host our celebration in their beautiful Tin Shed Courtyard.
- Additional logistical support was provided by the REI team, who took time to attend and assist during a very busy Oxnard Store Opening Weekend.
- Vapur donated their wonderful water bottles which were a huge hit with all of the day's attendees.
- And of course, Lee Sherman, Derek Poultney and the rest of VHC Volunteer Crew who were so well represented and prepared for a big volunteer effort.
An extra measure of gratitude is going out to Kate Larramendy, one of our planning team members from Horny Toad. Kate distributed leftover food to Turning Point, the nonprofit organization featured in Eviction Day that provides support, social services and beds for many of the homeless displaced from living in the river bottom.
On April 11, we'll be traveling to the bay area to partner with the East Bay Regional Parks. Here's to a fantastic season of doing good, together!
*photos provided by Nathan Garrison (Teva) and Zach Brown (Deckers)