Ventura’s bicycle gateway to get ocean-friendly makeover

A high-profile section along the Ventura River bike path will soon become Ventura’s newest ocean-friendly garden. The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy (VHC) and the Ocean Friendly Gardens team of the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation have teamed up to re-landscape and reinvigorate land at the entrance to the Willoughby Nature Preserve.

The two organizations will host a series of community work days to transform the property, the first taking place on Saturday, Aug. 19 beginning at 9 a.m. Volunteers will help remove old vegetation to prepare the area for future plantings of coastal native plants.

Located next to the “Welcome to Ventura” sign along the Ventura River Parkway the landscaping will be updated using ocean-friendly garden techniques designed to capture rainwater and eliminate urban runoff. The project, funded by the City of Ventura’s Community Partnerships Grant Program, seeks to beautify the area and educate the public about the benefits of ocean-friendly gardening.

The new garden will be named in honor of Paul Herzog, Surfrider’s National Coordinator for the Ocean-Friendly Garden program, who recently passed away at age 49.

Ocean-friendly gardens are designed to reduce urban runoff which is the number one source of ocean pollution. Pollutants such as fertilizers, sediment and pesticides that wash from gardens and hard surfaces into rivers and oceans lead to a host of environmental problems including beach pollution, soil erosion and wildlife habitat degradation.

The volunteer work day will begin at 9am with an orientation at VHC’s informational kiosk located along the bike path at the Main St. Bridge in downtown Ventura (Main St. and Peking Streets). All volunteers should wear pants, long sleeves, closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and bring a refillable water bottle. Volunteers must be at least 12 years of age and minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Volunteers can RSVP online: http://www.venturahillsides.org/ocean_friendly_garden_work_day

For more information, call the VHC office 643-8044 or www.venturahillsides.org.

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