County Backs Parks, Habitat Bond Plan

Despite the objections of farm and taxpayer representatives, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted a resolution supporting a $2-billion bond targeting parkland acquisition and various wildlife programs.

The resolution endorsing Proposition 180 was approved on a 4-0 vote, with Supervisor John K. Flynn absent.

If approved by voters next month, the initiative would set aside more than $23 million for specific property acquisition and habitat protection in Ventura County alone, including areas such as Ormond Beach and the Ventura and Santa Clara river sheds.

"It seems important to me that we be supportive of some of the goals this board has set in the past," said Supervisor Maggie Kildee, who brought the recommendation to the board.

But others said the state cannot afford to spend $2 billion it doesn't have to buy parks it doesn't need.

"More than 50% of the land in the state is already in government hands," said Rex Laird, the director of the Ventura County Farm Bureau. "The same goes for Ventura County."

Laird said the state would do well to take care of the parklands it already owns. Michael Saliba, the executive director of the Ventura County Taxpayers Assn., also opposed the resolution.

Board members, however, disagreed. Supervisor Maria VanderKolk said her husband still talks about his boyhood experience in the Colorado Conservation Corps, a youth program similar to ones that would be funded by Proposition 180.

"There's no way of putting a dollar figure on how important that (experience) can be to some youth who are at risk," VanderKolk said.

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