For the past few years, Channel Islands Restoration has been working hard to lay the foundation for a very special coastal meadow habitat restoration project; and in April, we received approval to start moving forward. Located in Montecito, Hammond’s Meadow is a beautiful, open space overlooking the ocean and a Chumash cultural site. The property is owned by Santa Barbara County and has the potential to become thriving native habitat, restored from its current state as little more than a weedy lot between homes. After years of collaboration with Barbareño Chumash, neighbors and others, we received approval from the County of Santa Barbara to help bring this meadow back to its former glory.
Currently, the meadow is dominated by invasive plants. Of the 24 plant species found in the meadow, only three are native. After each rain event, thick stands of black mustard, cheeseweed, and other invasives spring out of the ground, drop more seeds, and then die off. This is detrimental to the habitat quality of the meadow, is unattractive, and creates a fire hazard.
We’re working to control the weeds and reduce their presence within the meadow by weeding them before they have the chance to produce or drop seeds. As a sacred Chumash site, we’re taking care not to disrupt the soil. After a rain event prompts new growth at the meadow, we come in and remove the non-natives, cutting them near the ground level, without disturbing the soil.
The Hammond’s Meadow – Shalawa Preservation and Management Plan calls for protecting Chumash heritage, providing space for Chumash ceremony, preserving the trail to the beach, and planting more than 4,000 native grasses and low-growing native plants. Funds are being raised now to implement the project. We hope to have funding in place in order to begin planting in November 2020. To read the full plan, please visit cirweb.org/hmp.