CIR and the Santa Barbara Zoo have just begun the second phase of habitat restoration along the bird refuge at the Zoo, and volunteers will have plenty of opportunities to participate, starting this month!

A CIR crew removes invasive Myoporum trees at the Santa Barbara Zoo

The 42 acre Andree Clark Bird Refuge is one of Santa Barbara's most beautiful natural areas and provides habitat to 228 bird species, 43 of which nest there. It adjoins the 30 acre Santa Barbara Zoo, an organization that, like CIR, is dedicated to restoration and enhancement of native habitat.

In 2010, CIR was given a grant in partnership with the SB Zoo to restore the 2.1 acre margin between the Refuge and the Zoo that was, until recently, covered by a mix of ever-encroaching invasive plants and a few remaining natives. The Wetland Margin Enhancement Project was designed into two phases to remediate this situation, and both phases involved removal of Myoporum trees and many other invasive plants.  In 2011 and 2012, Phase I of this restoration project exceeded its goals and successfully treated approximately one-third of the shoreline along the Zoo, replacing invasives with native flora.

Phase I started in 2010, funded by a grant from the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project (SCWRP). The City of Santa Barbara removed invasive Arundo along the Zoo property during Phase I. CIR and Zoo staff and volunteers restored a total of 0.74 acres; 44 invasive trees were removed and 930 native plants (114 of those being trees) were installed. Over a span of 12 volunteer events, we had 365 volunteers help with this project, contributing a total of 1,460 volunteer hours. More than 100 volunteers showed up at the first volunteer day!  In addition to volunteers from CIR and the Zoo, volunteers from Citrix Online, the United Way Day of Caring, and Ojai Valley School participated.

A section of the wetland margin after restoration.

This year, Phase II of the project started with a second grant from SCWRP and one from the County of Santa Barbara's Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF).  The CREF grant is paid for from funds that mitigate the impacts from the Point Arguello, Point Pedernales, and Santa Ynez Unit offshore oil and gas projects. In Phase II, CIR is focusing on treating the remaining acres of the site, which contained dense stands of Myoporum trees, a number of Eucalyptus and small palms, plus smaller amounts of other invasive plants. A CIR crew spent three days felling 220 trees from within the project area in September. With help from Zoo staff we spent two additional days hauling and chipping the trees. The piled chips will be used for mulching during the upcoming plant installation scheduled to take place during the next few months.

CIR and the Zoo are contributing time and manpower to the project, but most of the work is done by community volunteers.  We will plant 1,300 native plants starting in November. At the end of each work day, participating volunteers can then visit the Zoo free of admission. Watch for e-mail announcements regarding planting days, as CIR will soon be offering a series of volunteer opportunities at the Zoo!