CIR Stewardship of the San Marcos Foothills




Volunteers pose at the San Marcos Foothills Preserve
following a day of invasive plant removal near
a natural freshwater spring.

In addition to maintaining our current restoration projects and planning new ones for the years ahead, CIR adopted a more active stewardship role for the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. In 2015, we now provide educational programs and have produced materials that educate visitors about protecting wildlife while we all enjoy the 210-acre Preserve, located between Santa Barbara and Goleta.

This year CIR organized three educational walks at the Preserve, including two bird watching events with biologist Mark Holmgren and a plant walk with Ken Owen.  All of these events were popular and were attended by nearly 60 people.  CIR also created a web guide to the Preserve that highlights the plant and animal life, geology and history and more.  We continue to develop a docent program for the Preserve, which will train volunteers to lead educational walks.



Biologist Mark Holmgren leads a CIR bird
watching walk at the Preserve.
As CIR takes on new responsibilities at the Preserve, we’re mindful of our previous successes there.  Since 2010, CIR has partnered with several non-profit organizations, businesses and County government to restore portions of the Preserve.  Our restoration sites along Cieneguitas and Atascadero Creeks have been spectacular successes.

Even during this dry year, in the middle of the worst drought in history, many of our plants continue to bloom well into autumn.  The sites attract butterflies that feed on nectar from the flowers, and they attract birds that collect seeds and insects from the plants.   In a generally dry and brown landscape, our restoration sites are some of the only green spots in the Foothills.  The success of the restoration sites is due to our dedicated staff and the help of more than 1,000 people who have volunteered with CIR at the San Marcos Foothills since we began our work.  


Common buckeye butterfly collecting nectar on California
buckwheat plants installed by Channel Islands
Restoration at the San Marcos Foothills
Preserve.
Thanks to a grant from outdoor retailer REI this year, CIR also removed invasive plants along trails and at a freshwater spring, where several species of wetland plants grow.  The REI grant paid for the cost of a staff person to lead the 16 volunteer days and for the cost of recruiting the 278 volunteers who participated.  Thanks to REI and to the Volunteers!