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Oceana and Blancpain Launch Ocean Expedition to Explore and Document Ocean Biodiversity

California Aglaja (Navanax inermis) – a predatory sea slug we found in Santa Barbara Island State Marine Reserve. Photo by Oceana/Blancpain.

Beginning April 29, Oceana – in partnership with prestigious Swiss watchmaker, Blancpain – embarked on a five-day ocean expedition around the Northern Channel Islands off California to explore and document biodiversity that makes ocean waters off the state globally important. The expedition will further Oceana’s campaigns to restore ocean abundance and Blancpain’s commitment to ocean exploration and conservation.

Oceana diver conducting research.
Photo by Oceana/Blancpain.

Southern California boasts undersea geology unlike any other off the U.S. West Coast, marked by a series of faults, banks, and underwater mountains (seamounts). This geology, combined with cold nutrient-rich waters that upwell from the deep make this region a global biological hotspot supporting diverse ocean life and habitats. These ocean waters include migratory routes for large whales – including endangered humpback whales – nurseries for great white shark pups, breeding and foraging habitat for California sea lions and giant seabass, gardens for colorful deep sea corals, and canopies of giant kelp forests to name a few.

Oceana and Blancpain intend to undertake a variety of research elements that include:

  • Partnering with a San Diego-based company that uses a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for military purposes, that for the first time will be used for ocean conservation. We will be using the ROVs side-scan sonar technology to map the seafloor and explore how this technology may be able to help detect the presence of deep-sea corals in addition to seafloor substrate data, and lost fishing gear.
  • Collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) water samples that will be later analyzed in a lab to detect what ocean animals inhabit and traverse these waters by the DNA “footprint” they leave behind in the water column.
  • Conducting scuba dive surveys documenting the diversity of ocean fish and their habitats to provide a comprehensive glimpse into the biodiversity at risk.
  • Identifying individual giant seabass and their aggregation sites – a fish that can weigh more than 500 pounds and once reigned over California’s kelp forests until it was overfished in the 1900’s. Individual fish are identified by their unique spots – like a fingerprint – and documenting them can provide new insights into their movements and conservation. We are partnering with the scientists at UCSB to advance their “Spotting Giant Seabass” research project.

The groups plan to utilize the imagery and scientific information gathered at sea in support of protecting ocean biodiversity by reducing entanglement of ocean animals – including whales, sea lions, sharks, and other fish – in set gillnet fishing gear. These fishing nets used to catch California halibut and white seabass can be 20 football fields long. Despite action by California voters more than 30 years ago, set gillnets are still allowed in federal waters (3-200 miles from shore) off Southern California’s mainland, offshore banks, and in state waters around California’s Channel Islands. Oceana is urging the California Fish and Game Commission and the state legislature to reduce bycatch in the set gillnet fishery.

This scientific expedition is the first of three voyages Oceana and Blancpain have planned in partnership to explore ocean biodiversity off California through 2025.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 300 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org to learn more.

Founded in 1735 in the Swiss Jura, Blancpain is known as the world’s oldest watch brand. Loyal to its tradition of innovation and confirmed by countless horological complications invented over the years, the Manufacture is constantly pushing the boundaries of watchmaking to take this art to places where it has never been before.

Exploration and preservation of the world’s oceans is at the core to Blancpain. With its legacy of the Fifty Fathoms – the first true diver’s watch – extending over 70 years, Blancpain has become close to the explorers, photographers, scientists and environmentalists who treasure the precious underwater resource. With that affinity has come a determination to support important activities and initiatives dedicated to the oceans.

To date, Blancpain has co-financed dozens of major scientific expeditions, celebrated its role in significantly extending the surface area of marine protected areas around the world, and presented several award-winning documentary films, underwater photography exhibitions and publications. This dedication to supporting ocean exploration and preservation is called Blancpain Ocean Commitment.

For more information about the expedition visit Southern California Expedition 2024 – Oceana USA. To learn more about ocean biodiversity at risk from set gillnets visit www.oceana.org/KeepCAOceansThriving

Red gorgonian coral and black rockfish, Santa Cruz Island. Photo by Oceana/Blancpain.

 

 

Empowering Ventura County Youth: Workforce Development Board Launches Revitalized Youth Program

Ventura County NextGen, The Workforce Development Board of Ventura County’s new youth-focused program, is helping local youth and young adults overcome barriers to employment and embark on successful careers.

The most recently available numbers show that only 88.1% of Ventura County high school seniors graduated in 2022; while this is slightly higher than California’s average graduation rate, it still leaves nearly 12% of Ventura County youth exiting school without their high school diploma. Those with lower household incomes have significantly lower graduation rates than those with higher incomes. This demographic already deals with the difficulties of entering the workforce at a young age. However, their participation in the workforce is down nearly 3% nationally when comparing February 2024 to February 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Recognizing this critical need in Ventura County, the Workforce Development Board of Ventura County (WDBVC) is seeking to pave the way for youth and young adults as they mitigate their unemployment or lack of career pathways; WDBVC has unveiled “Ventura County NextGen,” a revitalized youth program aimed at preparing Ventura County’s future workforce with essential skills and readiness.

Ventura County NextGen is a no-cost education and career development program specifically created for youth and young adults ages 14-24. Developed with input from local youth and young adults, the program offers a unique and relatable approach to career exploration and growth while helping them overcome employment barriers. Their supportive services include:

GED completion or assistance in obtaining a High School diploma

One-on-one career coaching and mentorship, with personalized guidance to help participants identify their strengths and set career goals

Resume writing and editing

Interview coaching, job search advice, and overall preparation for the hiring process

Internship and apprenticeship opportunities in relevant work fields

Credential or degree attainment

and so much more!

Goodwill Industries of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties is the current contracted service provider for the WDBVC’s youth program, which goes beyond employment assistance. Alongside aiding in employment-specific areas, Goodwill also provides vital support for youth navigating unstable living situations, housing insecurity, teenage pregnancy, justice-involved pasts, language barriers, and transportation challenges. These comprehensive services are expertly managed through Goodwill, ensuring holistic support for all participants.

“We understand the challenges youth and young adults face in today’s job market, especially those experiencing barriers to employment,” said Andrea Sanchez, Senior Manager, Workforce Development Board of Ventura County. “Ventura County NextGen extends beyond conventional job training. This wrap-around system prioritizes personalized coaching, assists participants in overcoming barriers to education and employment, and facilitates connections with opportunities that align closely with their aspirations.”

This critical program is available to all local youth and young adults ages 14-24 and functions in conjunction with Ventura County WORKS, a similar program for adults – especially those with disabilities, justice-involved pasts, or housing insecurity. WDBVC hopes that its commitment and dedication to combatting employment barriers through various supportive services and programs will help the most in-need in Ventura County in this post-pandemic economy.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this incredible no-cost program, visit VCNextGen.org or call 805-648-WORK to learn more and get started today.

Additionally, if you are a business in Ventura County seeking an eager employee, apprentice, or intern, you can reach out to WDBVC at https://workforceventuracounty.org/employers/business-solutions/, and they will help connect you with a worker who fits your business needs. Along with easily accessible help from real-life people, a multitude of resources are at your disposal, including a virtual hiring board that will help you find your next great employee.

Ventura River Trail Earmarked for $5 Million of Improvements

Pictured left to right: Amisha DeYoung-Dominguez, Michelle Sevilla, Liz Campos, Vathana Chy, Joe Schroder, Bill Ayub, Angelica Cisneros, Charlie Ebeling)

by Tracy Marcynzsyn

Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder, Councilmembers, key stakeholders, and agency representatives gathered at the Westpark Community Center on Thursday, May 2, to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Ventura River Trail Improvements Project.

The first groundbreaking event in several years, the project is made possible by a $5 million grant from Caltrans as part of the Clean California program.

“Cal Trans is a proud partner with the City of Ventura by providing nearly $5 million through the Clean California local grant program in an effort to enhance the community to improve space for walking and recreation,” noted Caltrans Senior Landscape Architect Vathana Chy, adding that “Two of my favorite things to do are biking and hiking, so this is a great place!

“The Ventura River Trail Improvement Project is one of the many Clean California local grant programs and safety-related projects intended to clean up and bring beauty to underserved communities. The goal is to transform our public space into areas that we can be proud of and have a sense of place,” noted Chy, who commended the audience for embracing the Clean California spirit and sharing a vision for an improved active transportation network in the city.

“We look forward to partnering on projects here in the future,” he added.

Improvements to the Ventura River Trail, which travels along state route 33, connecting the westside of Ventura to Ojai and the ocean, include repaving the city’s 1.8-mile stretch of the bike trail, adding solar lighting, and installing trash cans, bike maintenance stations, landscaping, art installations, and various trail user amenities.

“We are dedicated to sustainable recreation and fostering connection within our community,” said Mayor Schroeder, expressing appreciation and thanks to all involved with the project.

“It’s a real pleasure to do the groundbreaking on a project first starting out,” said Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling, just one month into his new position.

“The trail’s an important part of the city’s active transportation program. It provides facilities that connect communities in a healthier, more sustainable way,” said Ebeling, noting that the Ventura River Trail was originally constructed as a Rails to Trails project in the late 1990s.

With an anticipated completion date this fall, the project promotes recreation by improving access and enhancing trail amenities.

“About 200 trees, 180 solar lights, a rest station, drinking fountains—all of these amenities are really going to help this trail and bring people out of their cars, riding their bikes, whether it’s for recreation, for health, or to get back and forth to work,” said Project Manager Jeff Hereford, Principal Civil Engineer in the Public Works Department. “We are excited about this project! Thanks to all involved!”

Learn more about the Ventura River Trail Improvement Project at cityofventura.ca.gov/VenturaRiverTrail.

Know Your Zone: City of Ventura hosts community workshop to  educate residents on new Evacuation Plan

With a firm commitment to saving lives, the City of Ventura is spearheading efforts to ensure residents are well-informed about local evacuation procedures. Recognizing the complexity of the various hazards that could prompt evacuations in Ventura, the City has meticulously divided Ventura into 15 evacuation zones, considering factors such as hazard vulnerability areas, population density, and major thoroughfares.

To educate residents on the new evacuation plan, evacuation zones, shelter locations, and transportation assembly points, community members and business owners are invited to join Emergency Services Manager Mack Douglass for a community workshop on Saturday, May 18, 2024, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Ventura Police Department, located at 1425 Dowell Drive in Ventura.

The workshop will cover information about the 15 designated evacuation zones, potential shelter locations and transportation assembly points.

“With Ventura’s unique geography, location, and limited ingress and egress routes, it is crucial for residents to be aware of their designated evacuation zones in case of an emergency,” said Police Chief Darin Schindler. “By empowering residents with the knowledge and resources needed to respond effectively, we can streamline evacuation processes and save lives.”

The workshop is just one part of the outreach efforts. Additional presentations will be made at neighborhood community councils, ensuring accessibility to all residents. These presentations will cover essential details and provide opportunities for questions and feedback.

Residents are invited to attend the following meetings:

  • East Ventura Community Council: Thursday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m. on Zoom
  • Downtown Ventura Partners: Thursday, June 27, at 9:00 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza

The Evacuation Plan was developed based on feedback from over 900 residents who completed the Emergency Preparedness Community Survey in 2023. Survey responses provided diverse insights on all-hazards evacuation preparedness, including familiarity with current evacuation routes, emergency shelters, transportation options, preferred communication methods, and overall readiness.

The completed Emergency Evacuation Plan is inclusive of diverse populations, recognizing the needs of individuals with visual or hearing impairments, chronic medical conditions, language barriers, disabilities, access, and functional needs.

For more information, please visit CityofVentura.ca.gov/EvacuationPlan.

A Majestic Sight To See, Tall Ship Mystic Whaler Sails Into Ventura Harbor Village

Adventure, Lore & More Await Visitors 

Make your Memorial Day plans to venture seaside to Ventura Harbor Village as the majestic Tall Ship Mystic Whaler makes its voyage into Ventura.

Made possible by Central Coast Ocean Adventures Foundation (CCOAF), the 110-foot schooner will make its journey up the Santa Barbara Channel along the California coast.

During its visit to Ventura Harbor Village, the ship will dock at Ventura Harbor Dock-C, (near Ventura Boat Rentals, in front of Brophy Bros and On the Alley restaurants) from May 23 – May 30, 2024, and coincides with Ventura Harbor Village’s ongoing Spring seaside events/activities throughout May. https://www.venturaharborvillage.com/events/

Seeking some great outdoor excitement?  A tour of the boat is just the ticket!  Get ready for a host of Instagram-worthy experiences with a step back in time with a Deck Tour of the vessel from 1 – 5 PM on May 25, 26 & 27, 2024. Sea lovers of all ages have the opportunity to get a detailed orientation of the boat and the CCOAF Foundation, while kids can enjoy fun activities.  Upon boarding the schooner, adult visitors can make a suggested donation of $5 (kids are free). Please note: All activities are weather pending and the schedule may be subject to change.

For information about the Tall Ship Mystic Whaler deck tour information visit www.centralcoastoceanadventures.org.  Also please check VenturaHarborVillage.com for latest updates.

 

 

Free Food Programs for Seniors

Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

Today’s soaring food prices are deeply problematic for countless Venturans, but they’re particularly stressful for those on a fixed income. For many seniors, regular access to nutritious food can be challenging, but there is help available in the form of local and statewide programs designed to combat food insecurity.

Food Share Ventura County
Since 1978, Food Share has been feeding the hungry in Ventura County. According to Food Share, one in four people in Ventura County lives in a household that experiences food insecurity. Today, staff and volunteers distribute nearly 19 million pounds of food, providing 16 million meals annually to people in Ventura County through its hunger programs and 190 pantry and program partners. As Ventura County’s regional food bank, Food Share provides food for over 250,000 hungry friends and neighbors annually. Food Share is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief network of food banks, as well as the California Association of Food Banks.

Food Share’s Senior Food Box program works to improve the health of low-income seniors by providing monthly, nutritious, shelf-stable food packages to income-eligible seniors aged 60 and over. Currently, Food Share has close to 40 Senior Food Box distribution sites throughout Ventura County that cater to the needs of seniors living on a fixed income. Visit FoodShare.com to learn about eligibility requirements or contact Angela Aparicio at [email protected] or call 805-983-7100.

Ventura County Area Agency on Aging
The Senior Nutrition Program (SNP) from the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) provides nutritious meals for older adults and people with disabilities within Ventura County, including Congregate and Home-Delivered Meal (HDM) services. These meal programs provide seniors with nutritious meals and contribute to maintaining their health, safety, dignity, and quality of life. Since the COVID-19 crisis began in March 2020, the VCAAA has served more than eight million meals to Ventura County’s older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers.

All SNP meals are approved by a Registered Dietitian to meet U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and are geared toward the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) and Adequate Intake for vitamins and elements for older, frail adults. These meals provide a minimum of one-third of the DRI and accommodate diabetic and low-sodium diets.

The Senior Nutrition Program is not income-based. There’s a suggested donation of $3 per meal; however, no eligible individual (60 years and over) will be denied participation because of failure or inability to contribute. This valuable service is sustained with the help of contributions.

To find a local dining site or home-delivered meal program near you, visit vcaaa.org. For general information about Senior Nutrition, contact VCAAA at 805-477-7300 or email [email protected].

California Strawberry Festival Parking: Saturday and Sunday, May 18 & 19, Ventura County Fairgrounds.

STRAWBERRY EXPRESS SHUTTLE SERVICE

Avoid traffic delays and parking fees by utilizing the free park ‘n’ ride Strawberry Express Shuttle Service from convenient locations throughout Ventura and Oxnard.

Shuttles run on surface streets and have direct access to get you to the Festival fast and help you save on parking. Pick-up and drop-offs run approximately every 15-20 minutes. The first shuttle picks up at 9:00 a.m. Shuttles will operate until 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. Handicapped accessible shuttles are available.

LOCATIONS:

  • San Buenaventura State Beach ($10 Parking)
    Parking Lot at 901 San Pedro Street, Ventura
  • Ventura County Government Center (Free Parking)
    800 South Victoria Avenue, Parking Lot F on the Hill Street side
  • Pacific View Mall (Free Parking)
    3301 E. Main Street, Ventura, Parking and pickup behind the vacant Sears building
  • Oxnard High School (Free Parking)
    3400 W Gonzales Rd, Oxnard
  • De Anza DATA Middle School (Free Parking)
    2060 Cameron Street, Ventura
  • Seaward & Harbor (Free Parking)
    955 S Seaward Ave, Ventura CA 93001

Vol. 17, No. 17 – May 15 – May 28, 2024 – Forever Homes Wanted

Hi: I’m Ruger, a handsome 5 1/2-year-old Husky / Shepherd X in need of a new home as sadly my owner can no longer care for me due to medical reasons and having to move to an assisted living facility.

I enjoy being with people, going on walks or going to the dog park. I’m sweet, lovable and very active. I love to cuddle, receive belly rubs and I think I’m a lap dog.

I need a home with no cats and with a fence at least 6 feet tall. I’m choosy with other dogs, so if you have a fur baby in the home already, please bring him/her along so we can do a meet and greet. 

I’ve lived my life with a retired adult, but I am great with children and adults. I’m used to sleeping on the bed with my owner or on the sofa. 

If you’re interested in meeting me, please fill out an online application to meet me. Canine Adoption and Rescue League C.A.R.L. https://carldogs.org/
CARL Adoption Center-call 644-7387 for more information.


Gulliver is an affectionate 3-year-old  husky who has both a laid-back and playful side. He’s just as happy with his head in your lap as he is popping around the yard. We think he’d make a great addition to any family! https://www.vcas.us/viewan-2/?ida=A845380

If you’d like to meet Gulliver, schedule an appointment at https://www.vcas.us/adopt or come down to the shelter during normal Adoption Hours of 1:00pm – 6:00pm Tuesday – Sunday.  If you have questions, please contact us at (805) 388-4341 or [email protected].

Ventura Police Department solves 33-year-old cold case homicide

After over three decades, the Ventura Police Department (VPD) has made a significant breakthrough in the 1991 murder case of Danielle Clause. Using advanced forensic genetic genealogy techniques, law enforcement has identified Larry Devon Welch as the perpetrator, which is a pivotal moment in resolving this long-standing mystery.

“Through extensive collaboration with local and national law enforcement agencies and nonprofits, it’s with great pride that I share this success story,” said Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler. “From the initial investigation in 1991 to recent advancements in forensic techniques, I’m honored to highlight the perseverance of detectives as they continued to seek justice for the victim and her family.”

On July 16, 1991, the body of 42-year-old Clause was found on the hillside located at the top of Tioga Drive near downtown Ventura. The autopsy showed that she had been sexually assaulted and had died due to multiple blunt-force injuries to her head. Once investigators at the time explored every avenue, the case was suspended and considered cold.

In 2021, Ventura Police detectives and forensic specialists retested crime scene evidence for DNA. Forensic genetic genealogy was pursued, and a family tree was developed. Phenotyping was used to verify distinct characteristics of the suspect, and after collecting family DNA samples, Larry Welch was positively identified.

Welch passed away in 1999. There was no known connection between Welch and Clause at the time of her murder.

“My sister was so much more than a victim of a brutal murder. She was artist, a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a wife. She was a good person with a mighty soul, and she was taken way too young,” shared Marcie Forte, Danielle’s sister. “I didn’t really believe that the police were going to solve this, because there are other crimes being committed all the time. I was proven wrong because the Ventura Police and everyone associated with this cold case did a phenomenal job and I am so grateful. I’m so grateful that I lived to see at least a meter of justice and that they found out who did this.”

The Ventura Police Department’s unwavering commitment to securing justice for victims and their families endures, regardless of the elapsed time. Presently, VPD has over 25 cold cases, spanning homicides, missing persons, and unidentified deceased individuals.
The Ventura Police Department has released a storytelling video outlining details of this case from the original investigators, current detectives, and family of the victim. To watch the video and learn more about existing cold cases, visit CityofVentura.ca.gov/ColdCases. If you have any new information, please email [email protected].