The southwest tip of Halaco's slag pile.

  Photos and Commentary by Roger Pariseau


From "Golden Paradise" to "Nefarious Nuisance" to ???

Ormond Beach has been the scene of industrial restlessness, governmental foot-dragging, and area residents' wrangling for nearly a century. The area just north of the beach is wet even where man had wished it to be dry — probably the reason why whatever industry had located south of McWane Blvd. (just west of the industrial area off Arcturus) long ago moved out.

Ormond Beach and Mugu Beach (at Point Mugu NAS and abutting wetlands) deserve our continuing attention. Besides serving us as recreational outlets, they are also nature sinks where our filthy air gets cleaned, where many insectivorous birds nest, and where Mother Nature can relax between bouts with humankind.

We easily understand how the “leg bone's connected to the shin bone,” but we not so easily comprehend how the existence of one critter leads to the survival of other critters — including us humans. Were it not for the many varieties of shore and marsh birds that nest here, the Oxnard Plain would be one huge spider's web.


The Issues

Spurring all the recent noise and thunder (including this web page!) were the proposals by Pacific Vehicle Processors (PVP), Sysco Corp., and Oxy Energy (Liquified Natural Gas Terminal). Willamette Industries/Weyerhaeuser also wants to expand its operations in the area. PVP's proposal (now in limbo) incited the most fury as it would have completely blocked access to the wetlands from Hueneme Road south of Saviers Road.

Complicating the issue is Halaco Engineering Co., an aluminum recycling operation, that has created an enormous slag pile in what once was an estuary lagoon and which had evolved into wetlands. Environmentalists fear that noxious materials are leeching from this "settling pond." The company is under investigation and in court. The Saviers Road Design Team, along with many other environmentalists, want it gone.

Oxnard wants these industries despite the relatively low wages those companies pay most of their workers. PVP, for instance, advertises $8 an hour for its mostly part-time workers at its operations in Port Hueneme and at its huge premises on Edison Road. But then again the City of Oxnard has never seen a patch of concrete or blacktop or huge slab-sided construction that it doesn't like no matter how much they lower the standard of living for many of its residents or how they increase the demand on public social services.

Oxnard South Revitalization's meeting on Feb. 20, 2002, had Oxnard's Economic Development people and its planning staff give presentations. This was followed by contrary viewpoints from the Saviers Road Design Team. The bulk of the 200+ attendees applauded for the Team's proposal. All of Oxnard's city fathers, two county supervisors, a representative from Assemblywoman Hanna-Beth Jackson's office, along with a few politicians from Ventura and Port Hueneme were in the crowd.

Satellite's view of Halaco's
slag pile. Environmentalists
want this removed and the
original wetlands restored.


The closer mountain range is Halaco's slag pile. The hills in the background are the Santa Monicas. Birds pictured include three species of gull, avo-
cets, willets, sand-
pipers, dowitchers and terns. Photo taken during the First Annual Winter Bird Festival on March 9th, 2002.

Can We Bring Ormond Beach Back to its Former Glory?

All of this fracas becomes more interesting when we learn that, a century ago, Ormond Beach was touted throughout Sunny Southern for its fantastic sunset displays and calm swimming waters. The sun still sets spectacularly behind Anacapa Island. You can enjoy them if you drive all the way south on Perkins Road and park in the lot provided there.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist David Pereksta says he has personally observed and filmed 333 species of birds in Ventura County during the past year (2001-2002). E-Nature.com lists 290 of these on its web site. Some 17 bird species alone are endangered or threatened in our county. In addition, two species of beetles, one which lives in our sand dunes, is endangered as are 267 other animal and plant species throughout California.

We humans have not been kind to Mother Nature.

Folks can and do argue, “Which is more important: critters or mankind?” Yes! We're both important. But, unlike us, flora and fauna are limited by Mother Nature in where they can live and what they can do. Humans can and do pillage with abandon the properties they assume. Nature has no instantly-effective weaponry against greed. Her revenge is served cold and hard.

Now, to grind my particular axe, the obscene degradement of the Ormond Beach area was caused by us — by you and by me — as we spud in front of our tubes and ignore the vital importance of getting involved in our local governances. While we fritter away our free hours, cunning businesspersons are doing us in.

It might not seem like it, but what happens anywhere in Oxnard affects all Oxnardians.

We snooze; we lose.

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