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Earth Day beautification event set for April 21 at McGrath State Beach

Assemblymember Das Williams, front from left, and Ventura County Fifth District Supervisor John Zaragoza, were among a group of officials who gathered in August 2011 to discuss a program to save McGrath State Beach. Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblymember Das Williams.

Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), Friends of Channel Coast State Parks, Oxnard City Corps, and California State Parks officials have announce a beautification and maintenance event from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 21 at McGrath State Beach Park, according to a media release.

The park is currently closed to complete a sewer system upgrade project and is expected to open in July 2012. The goal of the event is to beautify the campgrounds and other park areas prior to the park’s re-opening.

“I am very proud to be one of the leaders of a group that worked together to keep McGrath State Beach Park open,” Zaragoza stated in the release. “McGrath is a very important part of our community. I am gratified that we will have an opportunity to clean up and beautify the park as a way to celebrate Earth Day.”

“Every year Ventura County area employees of our company look for volunteer opportunities to improve our community, especially in April during Earth month,” SoCalGas representative Michele Pettes stated in the release. “Our employees were really impressed with the efforts of Supervisor Zaragoza to keep McGrath State Beach open. We wanted to show our support and excitement about McGrath staying open, and we decided the best way to do this would be to help with a beautification event.”

tate Parks local Superintendent Eric Hjelstrom also thanked those working on this weekend’s cleanup in preparation for the reopening.

“We are excited to work with Supervisor Zaragoza to prep McGrath for its grand reopening,” Hjelstrom said.  “We have been working closely with Melissa Baffa (recently appointed executive director of Friends of Channel Coast State Parks) to plan something for Earth Day this year and this partnership with the supervisor and SoCalGas is just what the doctor ordered.

“Every year, a sandbar develops at the mouth of the Santa Clara River, and that traps water that ends up flooding the park. This season, McGrath was under water for about five months, until rainstorms in March and April finally caused the sandbar to be breached,” Baffa said. “That means that the water that was standing in the park was been able to drain away into the ocean, and the campground can start to dry out. We’ve got a lot of work to do to prep the campground for the busy summer season. We can definitely use all the volunteers we can get for this event, because the list of projects is very long.”

Oxnard City Corps volunteers will also be assisting with this project.

“We are grateful to have volunteers from SoCalGas, Oxnard City councilmember Bryan MacDonald and young people from the City of Oxnard City Corps program to join us for this event,” Zaragoza said. “I know that we can complete a number of valuable projects to make the park look beautiful for its re-opening.”

Volunteers who attend Saturday’s beautification event will be entered into a drawing, with two free campsites during the McGrath “Grand Reopening Celebration” to be given away as prizes.

McGrath State Beach Park was originally on a list of about 70 State Parks sites scheduled to close in July 2011. Supervisor Zaragoza and California State Parks officials Richard Rozzelle and Eric Hjelstrom joined with Supervisor Steve Bennett, Assembly member Das Williams, City of Oxnard officials and business owner Peter Mullin to secure funding for a much-needed sewer repair project. With these funds in hand, State Parks officials agreed to keep McGrath State Beach open.

For more information on the planned McGrath State Beach Park event, call the office of Ventura County Supervisor John C. Zaragoza at 805-654- 2613 or send an email to John.Zaragoza@ventura.org, or call Melissa Baffa of Friends of Channel Coast State Parks at 805-626-0156. To volunteer for the event, phone Baffa or send an email to volunteer@friendsofccsp.org

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