Interim Policies of Friends of the Santa Clara River
The following sections define Interim Policies of Friends of the Santa Clara River (Friends) in regard to flood protection, biological resources, agriculture, water supply, cultural resources, aggregate mining, recreation and quality of life within the Santa Clara River basin.
Friends supports the maintenance of a natural river system. We recognize an urgent need for flood management planning to include the entire drainage basin, including the effects of cumulative impacts of proposed projects. We support the use of bioengineering techniques that enhance environmental quality. The importance of source point absorption of rainwater and runoff mitigation should be recognized and appropriate policies incorporated into long-range plans. We support legislation to allow Flood Control Districts to extend beyond county boundaries and follow the natural boundaries of watersheds. We oppose continued public subsidies to private developers of land prone to flood disasters, and support reforms to give taxpayers equal representation with land owners in all public flood control efforts.
We oppose channelization of the river via either concrete or riprap sides. We support the construction of levees or other contaminants only where essential for protection of existing communities which lie within the floodplain (e.g. Santa Paula). Wherever possible, we support the purchase of land within the flood hazard zone as a less expensive alternative to the perpetual maintenance costs associated with channelization and other constructed flood control facilities.
Biological Resources of the River Corridor
Friends recognizes the exceptional value of the river ecosystem as a major Southern California resource. We support the protection and restoration of a full range of native plant and animal species including the Southern Steelhead and state species and natural communities of special concern (as identified by the California Department of Fish & Game Natural Diversity Data Base and the California Native Plant Society Inventory of the Rare & Endangered Vascular Plants of California).
Friends supports the maintenance of a river system which allows for the occurence of natural processes over time, including occasional flooding, channel movement and meanders, and changes in the state of riparian vegetation. We support the maintenance and restoration of biological linkages with adjacent, natural lands (wildlife corridors and upland buffer zones). We support the maintenance of river flows sufficient to support fish populations and instream biological processes, with the flow being of the highest possible water quality.
Friends supports the preservation and protection of agricultural lands as a non-renewable resource. We support the establishment of green belts, agricultural land trusts, conservation easements, and right-to-farm ordinances. We support the maintenance of current land use designation for rural land designated agland or open space. We encourage a shift to sustainable farming practices, including a reduction in nitrate runoff and percolation to the maximum feasible extent, and less reliance on pesticides and herbicides.
Friends recognizes the need for reasonable measures to protect agricultural lands from flood erosion consistent with allowing for channel movement and meanders. In view of the 95-97% loss of riparian habitat in Southern California which has already occurred, we support return and restoration of remaining riparian areas.
Friends supports integrated resource management of the Santa Clara River and its water resources. We recognize the fact that the Santa Clara River supplies 50-100% of the water supply to communities along its course from Acton to Ventura, and that when there is enough surface water to support a healthy river ecosystem, there is also a sufficient quantity to ensure adequate groundwater recharge for human use/ We support protection of the water resource for present and future public use by (1) avoiding channelization of the river, (2) strictly limiting or avoiding development in the 100-year floodplain (except for projects such as replenishment ponds or parks which enhance groundwater recharge), (3) supporting land use ordinances which reduce or eliminate nonpoint and other sources of pollution of the river and near-shore ocean waters, and (4) encouraging the incorporation of water resource planning and water availability into land use decisions.
Friends recognizes the unique value of Native American and other cultural resources in the river valley. We seek to promote an understanding of cultural and historical values and support the conservation of cultural and historical sites. We support the protection of cultural sites which may be discovered by river project activities until a through investigation is carried out with the assistance of Native American groups or other appropriate organizations.
Friends supports the use of off-river sites for large-scale aggregate mining, based on the fact that sufficient off-river sites exist to aggregate demand in both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties for the next 50 years. For existing in-river projects, we support the implementation of strict environmental guidelines, including long-term monitoring of site restoration efforts. Friends also supports measures which replenish the supply of beach sand.
Friends supports efforts to address issues, needs and opportunities for recreational access, including public acquisition of lands for low-impact recreation, where appropriate, along the Santa Clara River. We encourage broad-based citizen participation, exchange of information, and dialogue between diverse interests. We support efforts to eliminate trespassing on privately held lands, in particular off-road vehicle intrusion which can result in significant damage to riparian vegetation and agricultural crops.
Quality of Life in the River Basin
Friends recognizes the present exceptional sense of place in the Santa Clara River Valley with its large areas of open space and rural usages. We support firm limits to urbanization, and oppose any further deterioration in air quality such as would follow auto-dependent development, which is consistent with our support of the preservation of agricultural lands and the protection of biologically significant areas. We encourage a shift from conventional subdivision projects (which lead to urban sprawl) to denser, pedestrian-oriented mixed-use zoning. Within urban areas, we support the inclusion of natural landscapes such as parks, open space, wildlife preserves and greenbelts. We support a healthy, sustainable economy in the valley based on a ix of light industry and agriculture. Friends recognizes the need for widening Route 126 to a full, 4-lane highway for public safety purposes provided that appropriate measures are taken to protect wildlife corridors and riparian habitat.