Environmental Efforts

 

Annual Routine Maintenance Plan

 

Revegetation Project Creates Habitat for Wildlife and People

In November 1994, the Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District implemented a long-term maintenance project along Atascadero Creek in Goleta. The primary objective of this maintenance project was to clear the channel of obstructive vegetation to prevent flooding in the surrounding residential areas. An important element of the project however, was to plant new vegetation along the creek as mitigation for this clearing. The results of this project are visible as you travel along the bike path that runs between the City of Santa Barbara and Goleta Beach. The details of the project are described below.

The creek clearing project stretches from the confluence of Atascadero and Hospital Creeks down to the end of Ward Drive, a distance of over two miles. In order to mitigate clearing of the channel vegetation, the District implemented a revegetation project along Atascadero Creek. The revegetation included the creation of forested and emergent (cattail/tule) wetlands and the enhancement and protection of areas that already have established riparian (streamside) vegetation. The mitigation sites are along the bike path between Turnpike Road and Ward Drive, and on two adjacent parcels owned by the County.

The species and density of plants next to the bike path were chosen to create a park-like setting, with open areas and high canopied trees to allow people to walk, run and ride bikes and horses. To date, over 3,000 plants comprising willow, cottonwood and sycamore trees, and elderberry, blackberry, and mugwort plants have been planted in this area.

 

On the County-owned parcels, the District created three large basins that were seeded with emergent wetland plants such as cattails and tules, to provide habitat for wildlife such as the southwestern pond turtle. The basins were dug to bring the surface of the land closer to the groundwater level so the basins will be able to support the emergent vegetation. The areas surrounding the basins have been revegetated with species such as willow, cottonwood, blackberry, California wild rose, elderberry, and gooseberry to create forested wetlands habitat.
The initial clearing in 1994 was completed just in time for the storms of 1995, and due to this clearing there was no flooding along Atascadero Creek. Routine maintenance entailed discing the channel bottom to dislodge accumulated sediment and vegetation, and was carried out in November of 1995 and 1996. The planting of the revegetated areas was completed in the spring of 1996. The District is enhancing other portions of the County-owned property by removing invasive species like pampas grass, and clearing old car bodies and other trash. This allows more native riparian vegetation to move in and colonize these areas naturally.

The District is very pleased with the progress of this mitigation project. Many of the trees already exceed the three-year height requirements even though they are between one and two years old. The District is confident that these revegetated areas will provide good riparian habitat and still accommodate the people who use the area - walkers, joggers, and people on bicycle and horseback.

The revegetation site along the bike path can be accessed at the south end of Turnpike or Walnut Lane, or by traveling south on Patterson Avenue and turning upstream or downstream on the bikepath just prior to crossing over Atascadero Creek.

To view the emergent wetland basins and forested wetlands, travel south on Patterson Avenue, across Atascadero Creek and past the horse facility. Immediately past the horse facility there is a dirt turn-out and access road into the restoration area. No vehicles are allowed past the cabled entrance so you must be on foot/bike after that point. If you have any questions, please call Maureen Spencer, Flood Control, at 568-3440.

For more information see the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service website