Friends of the Santa Clara River recently celebrated its 25th anniversary by hosting a Gala Silver Streams Celebration. The event was held at Rancho Camulos Museum in Piru, the enchantingly beautiful Spanish era rancho, situated in its original rural setting. The rancho lies next to the Santa Clara River, below the Santa Susana Mountains, making a beautiful backdrop throughout the event.
The Gala brought guests together to celebrate, express gratitude, and to honor partners, elected officials, and the volunteers who are responsible for 25 years of river, floodplain and watershed protection and preservation. The FSCR retiring chairman of 25 years, Ron Bottorff, was honored with California Trout’s esteemed Streamkeeper Award for his significant contributions to the recovery of southern steelhead on the Santa Clara River watershed – the Southern California regional stronghold for this species. Honored guests included Ventura County supervisors, Linda Parks and Steve Bennett, congratulated for their work on the SOAR Initiative (Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources) and it’s recent approval for another 50 years.. Paolo Perrone was honored for his work with Trust for Public Lands in acquiring floodplain properties in the upper watershed and Dr. John Puglisi, Superintendent of Rio School District, was honored for the innovative river-inclusive architecture of the District’s newest school.
The event began on a warm afternoon with the phenomenal harpist VeeRona, who graced the porch, facing guests relaxing in the shade on the lawn below, and performed pieces ranging from Debussy’s “Clair de lune” to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’Mine”.
From the wines of our local vintner, Clos Des Amis, to sweets, savories, breads & pastries, from two local artisan shops, Roan Mills Bakery and Marie Shannon Confectioners, the gala attendee were nourished with foods and beverages, many of which are grown and produced locally in the Santa Clara River Valley.
Rancho Camulos Museum docents provided tours, giving astonished guests a glimpse of the past in this historic gem, the 1853 Del Valle family Adobe home, their chapel, and schoolhouse. Guests also glimpsed the progress on a Tataviam interpretive Village site.
Midway through the event, party goers were treated to a presentation prepared by Ron Bottorff, Lynne Plambeck and Jim Danza. Jim, the current chair of FSCR, guided guests through this retrospective on efforts to protect the river that FSCR, their partners, and volunteers have made during the past 25 years. From restoration projects, to river clean ups, to crucial legal battles and lobbying local elected officials, to watershed education, outreach and hikes along the river, Friends expressed their thanks, to everyone involved, for raising awareness of our watershed’s issues.
The presentation also served as a glimpse into what is to come with Friends of the Santa
Clara River. FSCR will continue as stewards of restored wetland riparian habitat at Hedrick Ranch Nature Area (HRNA) for many more years to come. HRNA has been greatly improving over time thanks to the help of volunteers and researchers. Friends will continue to be directly involved in longer term projects as well, such as the SCR-1 project in Oxnard, the Sisar Creek Crossing study, and will make great use of the recently obtained Explore the Coast Grant that will help bring school children to the Santa Clara River estuary.
A sumptuous silent auction delighted guests, served as financial support for FSCR and a showcase for local farming and businesses, reflecting everything from goat milk skincare products, to organically grown corn vodka, to yoga classes and local honey products and beeswax candles.
Volunteers wove among the guests, providing a truly pleasant celebration, as if in our own home, which it was, our shared home in the Santa Clara River’s watershed.
The sun was setting as the afternoon drew to a close with our honoree Dr. John Puglisi, taking the outdoor stage and performing with his band. Dr. Puglisi’s music is unique as the songs he performed were inspired by the Santa Clara River, from its history to its biology. The bands performance made a fantastic ending to the celebration.
We now hope that we make the next 25 years as amazingly productive as the past 25.
Many thanks to our partners, who helped sponsor the event, including the Nature Conservancy, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, Advocates for the Environment, Stillwater Sciences, Inc., SCV Unitarian Universalists, (Social & Environmental Justice Committee), Ellen Brokaw, Roan Mills Bakery, Candice & Dino Meneghin, Lynne Plambeck, Barbara Wampole & Tom Barron.
And deepest gratitude to Rancho Camulos Museum’s director Susan Falck, and devoted staff and volunteers who hospitably opened this beautiful venue to assist us and share in this celebration with all of us.
And a heartfelt Thank You to FSCR’s Gala planning committee; Candice Meneghin, Lynne Plambeck, Barbara Wampole and, Janet Bergamo