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Posted by birdman on April 21, 2004 at 15:39:57:

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) - The county scuttled plans to hire a falconer to help clean up the polluted Kiddie Beach at Channel Islands Harbor, where sea gull droppings are blamed for fouling the water.

A task force overseeing the Oxnard beach cleanup had recommended using Santa Barbara-based falconer Jeff Diaz to get rid of the birds. Diaz said his raptors could chase off the gulls whose droppings are contaminating the water.

But the $88,500 plan didn't meet guidelines outlined in a $1.5 million state Water Resources Control Board grant the county received to clean up the beach, said Christy Madden, task force chairwoman with the County Executive Office.

"They decided that because it's not a permanent solution to the problem, it's not eligible," Madden said Tuesday.

Permanent solutions are "brick-and-mortar" projects, and falcons don't fall into that category, water board spokeswoman Beth Jines said.

Kiddie Beach regularly tops the list of the most polluted beaches in Southern California. A recent DNA study by the county found that bird droppings cause 65 percent of the contamination, with human waste and sewage responsible for 18 percent.

Ventura County is already set to lose $795,000 of the $1.5 million grant because the money isn't being spent by a July 1 deadline. The Board of Supervisors voted recently to lobby state lawmakers for an extension.

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