This past Tuesday, June 7, the Oxnard City Council adopted a new ordinance that will help protect the wildlife and habitat at Ormond Beach. Ormond Beach is a designated Audubon Important Bird Area or “IBA” of global significance to bird populations worldwide providing habitat critical to sensitive species, including the Western Snowy Plover, California Least Tern, Belding's Savannah Sparrow and Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail, as well as many other species that rely on this area as part of their annual migrations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated Ormond Beach as "critical habitat" in its restoration plan for the federally listed Western Snowy Plover.
The new rules will go into effect in early July and include prohibitions against bringing any animal to Ormond Beach, including dogs and horses and interfering with any designated habitat area. The public will continue to enjoy the beach by fishing, surfing, sunning and picnicking, while other activities known to harm wildlife will be restricted. This will enhance the enjoyment of wildlife and nature for all.
Ventura Audubon has worked for more than 20 years to protect Ormond Beach and especially the nesting Western Snowy Plovers and California Least Terns. Bruce Schoppe, President of Ventura Audubon, says that the chapter asked for the Oxnard ordinance after seeing the problems grow at an alarming rate, particularly pet owners allowing dogs to run off leash where birds nest.
“People have also brought horses to Ormond. We have seen a couple of pet pigs, even an on-leash rooster that was killed by an off-leash dog in April. On one recent Saturday, there were so many off-leash dogs on the beach that the marine mammal rescue people could not save a seal pup stranded on the beach.”
Ormond Beach has made a remarkable recovery from the 1970s, when it was crisscrossed with off-road vehicle tracks. There were no dunes. All the vegetation had been destroyed. There was trash everywhere, and no nesting plovers or terns.
With increased protection and habitat restoration, the birds have returned. 200 species of shorebirds now use Ormond Beach as a rest stop on their annual migrations along the Pacific Flyway.
Help is needed to spread the word about these new rules. The city, with help from volunteers, will be doing outreach at Ormond Beach to educate beach visitors about the rules BEFORE the ordinance goes into effect during the weekends of June 18-19, 25-26, and July 2-3. Any day (or days) you may be able to help will make a difference for Ormond Beach. If you can help during any of these weekends, contact Eric Humel at firstname.lastname@example.org
We applaud the efforts of the City of Oxnard to protect Snowy Plovers, Least Terns and other shorebirds that rely on Ormond Beach for breeding and migration. The new ordinance will provide a model for compatible human use and wildlife preservation for beaches across the state.