Ventura Coastkeeper, a program of the Wishtoyo Foundation, works primarily to protect the Santa Clara River, Ormond Beach, and Mugu Lagoon watersheds within Ventura County, California. Of particular focus for VCK is the Santa Clara River, which is the longest remaining naturally free-flowing river in Southern California. In 2006, it was listed as one of America’s most endangered rivers by American Rivers due to its ecological value, social significance, and the critical support it provides for 17 species listed as threatened or endangered by state and federal governments. Revered by the multitude of local communities living along it, as well as nature enthusiasts, scientists, visitors, indigenous Chumash Native Americans, and its wildlife, the Santa Clara is particularly significant to not only the communities who utilize and enjoy it, but to the greater Southern California coastal region. The Santa Clara is threatened by a plethora of anthropogenic threats including the dewatering Vern Freemand Diversion Dam, other barriers to fish migration, channelization, floodplain development, and urban, industrial, and agricultural induced water pollution.
Chumash ceremonial leader and Dolphin Dancer Mati Waiya, a lifelong resident of Ventura County, created the Wishtoyo Foundation, a non-profit organization, in 1997. Mr. Waiya addresses cultural resource laws protecting sensitive archaeological sites as well as endangered species and natural resources. He is involved with Chumash cultural preservation and educational programs teaching the Chumash values and environmental preservation. Waiya appears in full regalia to present programs for schools, public events, government functions and grassroots foundations; he has presented programs to thousands of school children, sharing his knowledge about Chumash sustainable lifeways and environmental responsibility. Mati Waiya is the first Native American to be named a Keeper in the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Wishtoyo’s Ventura Coastkeeper program is one of over 265 Waterkeeper organizations that operate globally under the Waterkeeper Alliance, created and headed by Robert Kennedy, Jr. Mr. Waiya’s belief is that education is the primary tool for a future healthy, sustainable environment, awakening a passion for our natural surroundings in young people today to be passed on for generations to come. He has worked tirelessly to foster environmental awareness through teaching of his native Chumash cultural values.
9452 Telephone Rd. #432
Ventura, California 93004