Southern Pacific Milling Co. announced this week that it has hired an environmental consultant to oversee the closure of its sand and gravel quarry near the mouth of the Ventura River.
The company plans to close the quarry by Dec. 31 and to reclaim the land within six months after the closure, said Bill Berger, the company's general manager.
Greg Zitney of Zitney & Associates in Novato has been hired as project manager for closure of the 153-acre quarry, which has been in operation for 32 years.
An environmental planner and consultant since 1971, Zitney has managed similar projects, including restoration work under way in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, Berger said.
Plans have been in the works for more than a year to close the Ventura quarry, said Mark Capelli of Friends of the Ventura River.
He said the task proved to be more complex than expected for the company.
Capelli said the hiring appears to show that Southern Pacific is serious in wanting to minimize the environmental damage that its quarry has had on the sensitive river ecology.
"Doing this right will take somebody working on it full time," Capelli said.
County and state officials also responded favorably to news of the hiring. Putting Zitney in charge of the closure is part of "an ongoing, positive approach by S. P. Milling," said Judith Ward, an associate county planner.