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State, U.S. Officials Tour Wetland Area

September 19, 1996|LORENZA MUNOZ

In an effort to bring attention to the Ormond Beach wetlands, nearly 60 representatives of state and federal agencies paid a daylong visit to the area, making it the first time many had seen the wetlands.

The Biodiversity Council is an information and advisory group that deals with statewide environmental issues, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.

Its members include department heads from agencies such as the Department of Energy, the state Coastal Commission, state Parks and Recreation Department and the federal Department of the Interior.

The visit, which was coordinated by the Ormond Beach Observers advocacy group, was an educational experience for many of the representatives who did not know there was a wetland in Ventura County, said Andres Herrera, Oxnard's mayor pro tem, who accompanied the group.

"To me, it validates what we have already known--that this is a tremendous resource to the area," said Herrera. "There are not too many beaches like this left in California."

Indeed, Ormond Beach, which is surrounded by a paper mill, an energy plant and other businesses, is considered a "jewel" by environmentalists because of the number of rare species in its habitat. But the area is constantly embroiled in controversy due to yearly flooding that affects its neighboring industries.

Although the Biodiversity Council does not have legislative or decision-making power, any publicity it can bring to the area is helpful, said Jean Harris, an organizer and representative of the Ormond Beach Task Force advocacy group.

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