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Enlivening the Matilija Watershed 

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Section 1

 

1. Bull Frog
The American bullfrog typically inhabits large permanent water bodies such as swamps, ponds and lakes. The bullfrog gets its name from the sound the male makes during the breeding season, which sounds similar to a bull bellowing. Bull Frogs are invasive species due to their voracious appetite and the large number of eggs they produce, having a negative effect on native amphibians and other fauna.
http://www.californiaherps.com/frogs/pages/l.catesbeianus.html

2. Cattails

Cattails are largely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is found in a variety of wetland habitats. The rhizomes are edible. Evidence of preserved starch grains on grinding stones suggests they were already eaten in Europe 30,000 years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typha

3. Matilija Dam Scissor Art
An anonymous band of artists painted a giant pair of scissors and a dotted line on the face of 200-foot Matilija Dam near Ojai. For years, an alliance of environmentalists, fishermen, surfers and officials from every level of government has called for demolishing the obsolete structure, which was built in 1947.
https://www.venturacountytrails.org/WP/2011/09/19/on-a-divisive-dam-a-snippy-bit-of-graffiti/

4. Dragon Fly
A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata. Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with colored patches, and an elongated body. Dragonflies live on every continent except Antarctica.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly

5. Matilija Dam
Originally constructed in 1947, Matilija Dam is no longer beneficial to the watershed and surrounding environment. Since 1999 efforts have been made towards the removal of the dam which will help restore the ecosystem and bring the Ventura River back to life. Click the link for more information.
https://www.venturariver.org/search/label/Matilija%20Dam
https://caltrout.org/campaigns/matilija-dam

6. Raccoon 
Three of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws, its facial mask, and its ringed tail, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas relating to the animal. The raccoon is noted for its intelligence, as studies show that it is able to remember the solution to tasks for at least three years. It is usually nocturnal and omnivorous, eating about 40% invertebrates, 33% plants, and 27% vertebrates.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon

7. Great Horned Owl
The great horned owl, also known as the tiger owl or the hoot owl, is a large owl native to the Americas. It is an extremely adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas. 
Adult great horned owls range in length from 17 to 25 in, with an average of 22 in, and possess a wingspan of 3 ft 0 in to 5 ft 0 in, with an average of 48 in.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_horned_owl

8. Acorn Woodpecker
The acorn woodpecker's habitat is forested areas with oaks in the coastal areas and foothills of Oregon, California, and the southwestern United States, south through Central America to Columbia.[9] This species may occur at low elevations in the north of its range, but rarely below 1,000 m (3,300ft) in Central America, and it breeds up to the timberline. Nests are excavated in a large cavity in a dead tree or a dead part of a tree.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn_woodpecker

9. Arroyo Willow 
Arroyo Willow is native throughout California and elsewhere in the western United States, below 7000 feet. It is generally found in riparian areas within a variety of vegetation associations, including forests, chaparral and grasslands. It also provides food and building material for beaver populations. The indigenous peoples of California use the species in various ways. As a traditional medicinal plant, infusions of the leaves, bark, or flowers are used for several disease remedies. The inner bark was used to make rope. Shoots were used in coiled and twined basketry, and branches were used to make acorn storage baskets.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salix_lasiolepis

10. Watershed Cycle
Water is always on the move. Rain falling today may have been water in a distant ocean days before. And the water you see in a river or stream may have been snow on a high mountaintop. Water is in the atmosphere, on the land, in the ocean, and underground. It moves from place to place through the water cycle. 
https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/water-cycle

11. Ceanothus
The Californian species of Ceanothus are commonly known collectively as California lilacs. Most ceanothus are below 12 feet tall and have either white or blue flowers. Many ceanothus flowers will make a soapy lather when crushed in the hand with water. This was one of the several uses the Chumash and other indigenous peoples had for ceanothus. They also used tea brewed from the leaves of some species to treat coughs and colds.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceanothus

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Section 2


12. Beaver Dam

Beaver dams are built by beavers to provide pods as protection against predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears, and to provide easy access to food during winter.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_dam
 

13. Beaver
The beaver works as a keystone species in an ecosystem by creating wetlands used by many other species. Next to humans, no other extant animal appears to do more to shape its landscape. Beaver dams also help slow, spread and sink surface water that percolates into the ground water basin. This is particularly beneficial in drought prevalent areas. The ponds beaver make also act as fire breaks. They continue to grow throughout their lives and may reach 3 to 4 feet long, including tail. Although most adult beavers weigh 40 to 70 pounds, very old, fat beavers can weigh as much as 100 pounds.
https://www.venturariver.org/2020/10/beavers.html?fbclid=IwAR0bv-awfLG1aUUJzDig6JtjlRqldtYkqDKJ9vHA9xf5CLW2YYopactrLck&m=1

14. Steelhead Trout
The steelhead are native to freshwater and ocean environments across North America. Steelhead use aquatic obstructions like vegetation, boulders, and fallen trees as protection. Steelhead migrate to spawn during the summer months and the winter months. The inland Chumash hunted fish, deer (venison), elk, fowl, and small game such as rabbits and quail to compliment the staple food of acorns in their diet. Steelhead can weigh up to 55 pounds and reach 45 inches in length. They can live up to 11 years and spawn multiple times.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steelhead_trout

15. Mountain Lion
The cougar, also known as the mountain lion or puma, is the second-largest cat in the New World after the jaguar. The cougar has the largest range of any wild land animal in the Americas. Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and twilight hunters, although daytime sightings do occur. Adult males are around 7.9ft long from nose to tail tip, and females average 6.7ft, with overall ranges between 4.9 to 9.0ft nose to tail suggested for the species in general. They weigh between 80-180 lbs.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar

16. White Egret
The great egret, also known as the common egret, large egret, or (in the Old World) great white egret or great white heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, it builds tree nests in colonies close to water. Standing up to 3.3ft tall, this species can measure 31 to 41 inches in length and have a wingspan of 52 to 67 in.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_egret

17. North American Brown Bear
The North American brown bear or simply grizzly, is a large population or subspecies of the brown bear inhabiting North America. The grizzly plays a role in the ecology by eating berries and depositing the seeds, clawing up soil which helps plants grow and leaving salmon meat for other animals to feed on. Most adult female grizzlies weigh 290–400 lb while adult males weigh on average 400–790 lb. A grizzly bear's front claws measure about 2–4 inches in length; a black bear's claws measure about 1–2 inches in length. There are currently about 55,000 wild grizzly bears located throughout North America, 30,000 of which are found in Alaska. Only around 1,500 grizzlies remain in the lower 48 United States.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_bear

18. Tule Elk
The tule elk is a subspecies of elk found only in California, ranging from the grasslands and marshlands of the Central Valley to the grassy hills on the coast. Elk grazing have a positive impact on native grassland species abundance and diversity, and increase the richness and abundance of the soil. They average 7 feet in length and stand 4-5 feet in height at the shoulder. They can weigh from 370-550 lbs. A true wildlife recovery success story, the statewide Tule Elk population has recovered to more than 4,000 animals. 
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tule_elk

19. Matilija Watershed
The Ventura River watershed is a remarkable watershed for several reasons. Unlike most watersheds in southern California, no imported water is used; residents rely 100 percent on local water supplies. The land in the watershed is largely undeveloped. The northern half the watershed lies within the Los Padres National Forest, with much of the Matilija Creek sub-watershed (the actual beginnings of Ventura River) protected in a legislatively-designated wilderness area.
http://wcvc.ventura.org/ventura_river.htm
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilija_Creek
 

20. Great Blue Heron
The great blue heron is a large wading bird in the heron family common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North America and Central America, as well as the Caribbean and the Galápagos Islands. Great blue herons' measure 3.2 to 4.5 feet and have a wide wingspan of 5.5 to 6.6 feet. They can cruise at some 20 to 30 miles an hour.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_blue_heron

 

21. Bald Eagle
Bald eagles are found across North America and typically near lakes and rivers.
The name comes from the old English word “balde” which originally meant white. Eagles use both monocular and binocular vision, meaning they can use their eyes independently or together depending on what they are looking at. An eagle can see something the size of a rabbit running at three miles away. The average wingspan ranges from 6 to 7.5 feet. Eagles can achieve 30 mph using powerful wing-beats and even faster when diving after prey. Bald eagles can dive at up to 100 mph. Fish is the primary food of bald eagles, but they will eat a variety of other animals and birds.
https://www.baldeagleinfo.com/

 

22. Matilija Canyon
The Matilija Wilderness is a 29,207-acre (11,820 ha) wilderness area in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, Southern California. Riparian zones with thick stands of alder and maple are found along canyon bottoms, and conifers are present at higher elevations. The Matilija Poppy, which has the largest flowers of any indigenous California plant, is native to this area. Wildlife found in this area include black bear, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, quail, rabbits, raccoons and squirrels.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilija_Wilderness

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Section 2

Section 3


23. Beaver Dam

Beaver dams are built by beavers to provide pods as protection against predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears, and to provide easy access to food during winter.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_dam

24. Western Pond Turtle
The western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), also known commonly as the Pacific pond turtle is a species of small to medium-sized turtle. The species is endemic to the western coast of the United States and Mexico, ranging from western Washington state to northern Baja California.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_pond_turtle
 

25. Bees
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the western honey bee, for producing honey. Bees are found on every continent except for Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants. Bee pollination is important ecologically.  The bee is a keystone species whose decline in population from climate changes is of great concern.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee

26. Skunk
Striped skunks live throughout North America from southern Canada into northern Mexico. Their diet is primarily insectivorous during the spring and summer seasons when grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, bees and other arthropods are abundant, then switches to a carnivorous diet during colder months. They prefer open areas, with abundant populations observed on agricultural lands. They have been observed living in wooded areas, deserts and plains, and have even adapted to urban and suburban environments.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunk
 

27. California Wild Mushroom
Mushrooms, like the beaver and bees, are another keystone species. Without them forests, woodlands and many creatures would be unable to survive. Fungi play an important role in energy cycling within, and between, ecosystems. Fungi play a very important part in the decomposition process, because they can break down tough organic materials. This relationship is mutually beneficial because fungi facilitate the transfer of nutrients from the soil into plant roots, and in turn receive carbon from the plant. It’s important to not forage and eat mushrooms without an experienced person with you. Though many are delicious when eaten, many are also poisonous.
https://sciencing.com/fungi-contribute-ecosystem-21989.html
 

28. Western Gray Squirrel
The western gray squirrel is an arboreal rodent found along the western coast of the United States and Mexico. Western gray squirrels are forest dwellers, and can be found at elevations up to 2,000 m. Time on the ground is spent foraging, but they prefer to travel distances from tree to tree.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_gray_squirrel

29. Valley Oak
Quercus lobata, commonly called the valley oak or roble, grows into the largest of North American oaks. It is endemic to California, growing in interior valleys and foothills from Siskiyou County to San Diego County. Mature specimens may attain an age of up to 600 years. This deciduous oak requires year-round access to groundwater. The Chumash Indians use acorns from the oak a seed a staple food in their diet food which they ground into acorn meal to make soup, cakes and bread.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_lobata
 

30. Red Tail Hawk
The red-tailed hawk is one of the most widely distributed of all raptors in the Americas. It’s a bird of prey that breeds throughout most of North America, from the interior of Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies. The red-tailed hawk weighs from 1.5 to 3.5lb and measures 18–26 in in length, with a wingspan from 3ft 7in–4ft 8in. They fly 20-40mph.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-tailed_hawk
 

31. Beaver
The beaver works as a keystone species in an ecosystem by creating wetlands used by many other species. Next to humans, no other extant animal appears to do more to shape its landscape. Beaver dams also help slow, spread and sink surface water that percolates into the ground water basin. This is particularly beneficial in drought prevalent areas. The ponds beaver make also act as fire breaks. They continue to grow throughout their lives and may reach 3 to 4 feet long, including tail. Although most adult beavers weigh 40 to 70 pounds, very old, fat beavers can weigh as much as 100 pounds.
https://www.venturariver.org/2020/10/beavers.html?fbclid=IwAR0bv-awfLG1aUUJzDig6JtjlRqldtYkqDKJ9vHA9xf5CLW2YYopactrLck&m=1


32. Red-Ear Slider Turtle
Red-eared sliders are medium-sized freshwater turtles. They occupy a variety of natural freshwater habitats, including streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, swamps, and marshes. Introduced red-eared sliders compete with native species for food and habitat. For example, in California and the other Pacific states, sliders compete with native western pond turtles for food, egg-laying sites, and basking sites.
https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/species/redeared-slider
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eared_slider

33. Matilija Poppy
Romneya coulteri, the Coulter's Matilija poppy or California tree poppy, is a perennial species of flowering plant in the poppy family. Native to Southern California and Baja California, it grows in dry canyons in chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities, sometimes in areas recently burned.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romneya_coulteri
 

34. California Wild Flowers
Wild flowers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They provide habitat and pollen for insects, serve as food for animals and humans and nourish the soil. 
Guide: https://ovlc.org/native-flowers/

35. Common Wild Birds
Wild birds in this region are numerous, coming in many shapes, colors and sizes with a variety of habits and songs.
https://ovlc.org/preserves/ojai-meadows-preserve/ojai-meadows-preserve-birds/

36. Mallard Duck
The mallard is a dabbling duck that breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Eurosiberia, and North Africa and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. The inland Chumash hunted water and land fowl, deer (venison), elk, and small game such as rabbits and quail to compliment the staple food of acorns in their diet.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard
 

37. California Mule Deer
The California mule deer is a subspecies of mule deer whose range covers much of the state of California. Grazing has a positive impact on native grassland species abundance and diversity, and increase the richness and abundance of the soil. They also help keep the invasive grasses to a minimum. The inland Chumash hunted deer (venison), elk, fowl, and small game such as rabbits and quail to compliment the staple food of acorns in their diet.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_mule_deer
 

38. Crow
A crow is a bird of the genus Corvus, or broadly a synonym for all Corvus. The word “crow” is used as part of the common name of the species.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crow

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Section 4


39. Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly or simply monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly. Other common names, depending on region, include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown. It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species. Its wings feature an easily recognizable black, orange, and white pattern.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly
 

40. Swallowtail Butterfly

Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies in the family Papilionidae, and include over 550 species. Though the majority are tropical, members of the family inhabit every continent except Antarctica. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies.

The forked appearance in some of the swallowtails' hindwings, which can be seen when the butterfly is resting with its wings spread, gave rise to the common name swallowtail.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swallowtail_butterfly

 

41. Manzanita
More than sixty species of manzanita occur in California, eleven of which are found in the Los Padres. They range from shrubs only a few feet tall to some as tall as twenty feet, and are all characterized by reddish or orange-ish bark, gnarled trunks, and waxy leaves. The plants produce bell-like white-to-pink flowers in the winter and spring, and then produce apple-like fruits, giving them their name manzanita, or “little apple” in Spanish. Native Americans would often use these fruits to make meal and cider, and much of the wildlife of the chaparral, including bears, deer, and squirrels, depend on these fruits for food throughout the summer. The manzanita also has wide use for medicinal purposes from stomach aches, poultices for wounds, treatment for poison oak rash, bronchitis, colds and diarrhea.
https://lpfw.org/our-region/wildlife/manzanita/

 

42. California Mule Deer
The California mule deer is a subspecies of mule deer whose range covers much of the state of California. Grazing has a positive impact on native grassland species abundance and diversity, and increase the richness and abundance of the soil. They also help keep the invasive grasses to a minimum. The inland Chumash hunted deer (venison), elk, fowl, and small game such as rabbits and quail to compliment the staple food of acorns in their diet.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_mule_deer
 

43. King Snake
Kingsnake species inhabit the Americas from southeastern Canada to southern Ecuador. The common kingsnake is known to be immune to the venom of other snakes, like rattlesnakes. The California Kingsnake, like all snakes, has a special way of "smelling". Instead of using nostrils, snakes have developed a forked tongue and a Jacobson's organ. The Jacobson's organ allows the California Kingsnake to analyze what is around it through scent particles.
http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/l.californiae.html
 

44. Matilija Dam
Originally constructed in 1947, Matilija Dam is no longer beneficial to the watershed and surrounding environment. Since 1999 efforts have been made towards the removal of the dam which will help restore the ecosystem and bring the Ventura River back to life. Click the link for more information.
https://www.venturariver.org/search/label/Matilija%20Dam
https://caltrout.org/campaigns/matilija-dam
 

45. Cattails

Cattails are largely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is found in a variety of wetland habitats. The rhizomes are edible. Evidence of preserved starch grains on grinding stones suggests they were already eaten in Europe 30,000 years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typha

 

46. Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna's hummingbird It was named after Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli
It is native to western coastal regions of North America. These birds feed on nectar from flowers using a long extendable tongue. They also consume small insects and other anthropods caught in flight or gleaned from vegetation. While collecting nectar, they also assist in plant pollination. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna%27s_hummingbird
 

Other Resources:

 

Wild Life and Plants of the Los Padres Forest

 

Indigenous Peoples Use of Plants and Herbs:

 
 
 
 
 

The Enlivening the Matilija Watershed mural was painted from Nov.9-20, 2020 by lead muralist Lisa Kelly and included the participation of 25 youth from around the Ojai Valley.


This community art project was made possible by grants from the City of Ojai Arts Commission and the Resource Legacy Fund who awarded Ray Powers (artistic director, project manager, Co-Vice President Ojai Valley Green Coalition) the funds. Thank you to the Ojai Unified School District for their in-kind donations and partnership.

Environmental education, artistic expression and a vision for the future health of the Ojai Valley watershed are the cornerstone objectives for the Enlivening the Matilija Watershed mural.

The mural was revealed in a community celebration on Nov.21, 2020, that included talks by Ray Powers (Artistic Director, Project Manager), Dr. Tiffany Morse (Superintendent, Ojai Unified School District), Marcy Toscher (Chairperson, Ojai City Arts Commission) and Paul Jenkin (Founder, Matilija Coalition / Campaign Coordinator, Ventura Surfrider Foundation).

The 30’x14’ mural depicts the Matilija Creek in it’s regenerated state after the Matilija Dam has been removed. The waters flow clear, the wildlife abundant, the flora and fauna vibrant and renewed. The beaver is featured prominently as it is a keystone species whose presence affects the entire whole of the ecosystem. The mural emphasizes the restored watershed which feeds a beaver pond where deer, bear, mountain lion, heron and others come to eat and drink. Oaks, sycamores and willow provide shade and a steady perch for the flyers to come and rest. The steelhead move unimpeded upstream to spawn where once they numbered into the thousands. This pristine and rejuvenated landscape will be framed by the cobbled remains of the Matilija Dam which once held back the waters and marred the mouth of the canyon. It’s removal signifying the steady return of the natural cycles of life.

The underlying theme of the mural is our role in bringing back the balance of these natural cycles in our ecosystem. The inherent relationship we have as stewards of the land requires reciprocal altruism.  Our ecological behavior and tendencies need to shift to insure the survival of all the native species, which in turn will provide the resources we need to thrive.

The fabrication of the mural is designed as a removable piece of artwork. It is painted on mounted di-bond panels which will enable the mural to be moved to another location within the school district should the building be repurposed.

The project engaged the community, twenty-five students, ages 8-18, participated in the painting with direction from the mural artist. The mural is experienced both as an inspiring piece of art as well as an educational outdoor classroom to teach about environmental sciences and our local watershed. This website is devoted to the mural as an “image map” where each graphic element is clickable with resources to learn more. Signage at the mural site will allow people to access the online image with a QR code to learn as they look. We envision this to be an educational landmark destination.

A special thanks to Dave Rogers, Dave Fransen, and Russ Bennett of the Ojai Unified School District maintenance department. They made sure the di-bond panels were hung to make it possible for the "

Enlivening the Matilija Watershed mural to be removed to another building if needed. Another perk was the use of the OUSD electric crane which made it easy and efficient to paint the out of reach parts.

Time lapse videos of the process and reveal can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF5p7ukVA1bl41UXdGgS47hj_HQLNnZog

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