Kalorama Wetland Restoration and Community Education Project
The MERITO Foundation worked with California State Parks Channel District and with the support of the California Coastal Conservancy and Wetland Recovery Project to restore an iconic site known as Kalorama by the Ventura pier in San Buenaventura State Beach. The location is at the bottom of the watershed which used to be a large wetland area and site of significance for Chumash people before Harbor Boulevard and Highway 101 were built. The site stands out for its willow trees and abundant vegetation, but many invasive non-native plant species have been taking over the site, threatening the native species that currently live there, and part of the site floods after heavy rains.
The MERITO Foundation has involved youth and their families during marine science-themed beach camps and volunteer events to help remove invasive plants and increase the abundance of native species in the wetland and its surroundings.
The goals of this project were:
To decrease the cover and abundance of invasive plants
To increase the number and abundance of native plant species
To educate youth and their families about the importance of native plants, wetlands, and their ecological services
And to build stewardship for wetlands and coastal resources among local youth
The non-native plant removal events with youth and family member volunteers initiated in September 2020. Re-vegetation events will initiate early in 2021. Prior to and during the restoration events, volunteer youth learn about the importance of wetlands and the threats posed by invasive plant species. Non-native plants are being pulled out and disposed of in a way that ensures they won’t spread to neighboring sites. California State Park staff utilized the least impactful methods to kill the highly invasive Highway Ice plant, which is being kept in place to work as mulch for native plants and to protect the wildlife living under it such as the California legless lizard. MERITO Foundation staff has mapped the area’s vegetation prior to initiating the restoration efforts and is monitoring bird populations, and stormwater water quality at the site.
The non-native species we were working to remove:
Highway Iceplant (Caprobrotis edulis)
Jersey Cudweed (Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum)
Russian Thistle (Salsola tragus)
In the Winter and Spring of 2021, youth and their families transplanted native species into those areas that were previously covered by Iceplant and other non-native plant species. Native plants will help control erosion, improve the natural habitat, and provide a more beautiful environment for walkers, bikers, beachgoers, and everyone looking to enjoy the beach by the Ventura Pier.
Youth Education and Family Science Events
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth and families’ participation in the Kalorama Wetland Restoration and Community Education Project was limited to small groups of children participating in the MERITO Foundation’s Marine Science Beach Camps. The family restoration events were scheduled once per month. During these events, parents, and siblings of the youth who participate in the Marine Science Beach Camps were invited to co-volunteer in the restoration efforts and learn from their children about the importance of wetlands and native plants, among other coastal ecology subjects such as botany, plant monitoring, soil identification, beach profiles, bird identification, water quality testing, and much more.