Introduction and Project Goals

Hammond’s Meadow (officially “Hammond’s Meadow County Open Space”) is a Chumash heritage site known as Shalawa. The 2.96-acre parcel is located in Montecito in the Sea Meadow community, adjacent to a public beach, between Eucalyptus Lane and Channel Drive. It is owned by Santa Barbara County and managed by the County Community Services Parks Division.

Currently, the only work happening at the meadow is weed control and a limited amount of erosion control, but the future goals of the project are:

  • Restore native habitat that is visually pleasing and will attract a greater variety of wildlife.
  • Protect the integrity of the historic Chumash village.
  • Reduce erosion and vandalism that leads to degradation of the meadow’s cultural resources.
  • Enhance stewardship of the site that is respectful of Chumash heritage.
  • Provide species that are significant to Chumash peoples.
  • Create wildlife habitat.
  • Increase sense of security for the people who live by the meadow and the public that visit the beach.
  • Retain the public trail to the beach.

Why Do We Need to Restore the Meadow?

In addition to the goals listed above, hundreds of studies over many decades have shown that native animals (including insects etc.) thrive around native plants, and survive very poorly or disappear altogether in places where non-native plants take over. This is because native animals and plants have evolved together over millennia and depend on each other for survival. Native plants provide food, breeding and nesting habitat for the animals, and the animals most often pollinate and spread the seeds of the native plants. Non-native plants were introduced to our continent (either accidentally or deliberately) but the species that normally feed on them and keep them from utterly taking over were not. As a result, these non-native plants become "invasive," meaning that they spread aggressively and out compete the natives.

Nothing in biology is absolute, so there are some native animals that adapt well to non-native plants. But areas dominated by native plants almost always have higher numbers of native animals and a much higher variety of animal species than areas that are dominated by non-native plants. Some naive plants are not completely eliminated by the non-native plants, but do not fare well in competition from the invasive non-native plants that have taken over. At the Meadow, only two native plants have managed to survive the onslaught from the European and South-African plants that have spread in the area. One of them is the "Mamoey" plant, also known as "Toloache and Jimsonweed." Its scientific name is "Datura wrightii" and it is considered sacred by Native American people, inducing the Chumash. Each year during the rainy season Mamoey is covered or at least aggressively competed with by non-native weeds. This results in the native Mamoey struggles for sunshine, plus water and nutrients from the soil. Our project is designed in part to reduce this competition, introduce the native plants that once grew at the meadow and give the native plants a fighting chance to survive when the non-natives take over during the wet season.

When completed, the meadow will consist of a mosaic of grasses, herbaceous wildflowers and occasional low-growing shrubs and oak trees on the eastern end of the site. Winter and spring grasses, spring wildflowers, and summer asters and golden grasses are some of the changing and appealing elements of the vegetation we hope to achieve.

Conceptual Native Plant list:

To follow is a list of the native plants (organize by "plant communities") that are planned to be installed at various locations in the meadow. This is just a conceptual list at this point, and is subject to change:

Coastal Sage Scrub

The Coastal Sage Scrub community includes a wide array of low to mid-growing shrubs and herbaceous species landward of the immediate coast, where it is transitional to Coastal Dune and Coastal Bluff Scrub. Plants of Coastal Sage Scrub have a long flowering season and a variety of colors, textures, and fragrances. It provides an attractive foreground to the foothill views. At Hammond’s Meadow, coastal sage vegetation is proposed on the northern, western and northeastern perimeters of the site. The coastal sage scrub species include:

Eriogonum parvifoliumSeacliff Buckwheat
Eriophyllum confertiflorumGolden Yarrow
Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioidesCoastal Goldenbush
Lonicera subspicata var. subspicataSanta Barbara Honeysuckle
Salvia leucophyllaPurple Sage
Scrophularia californicaCalifornia Figwort
Solanum xanti var. xantiPurple Nightshade

Meadow Vegetation

The meadow vegetation will consist of a mosaic of grasses, herbaceous wildflowers and occasional low-growing shrubs. Winter and spring grasses, spring wildflowers, and summer asters and golden grasses would be some of the changing and appealing elements of the vegetation.

Achillea millifoliumWhite Yarrow
Amsinckia intermediaCommon Fiddleneck
Bromus carinatusCalifornia Brome
Lonicera subspicata var. subspicataSanta Barbara Honeysuckle
Erigeron foliosusLeafy Daisy
Eriogonum parvifoliumSeacliff Buckwheat
Eriophyllum confertiflorumGolden Yarrow
Eschscholzia californica (coastal form)California Poppy
Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioidesCoastal Goldenbush
Lupinus succulentusSucculent Lupine
Muhlenbergia rigensDeer Grass
Sisryinchium bellumBlue-eyed Grass
Stipa pulchraPurple Needlegrass

Coastal Bluff Scrub

A remnant example of Coastal Bluff vegetation is located on the eastern portion of Hammond’s Meadow adjacent to the beach and open ocean environment. In its current state, the Coastal Bluff community is eroded and fragmented. The restoration project will provide additional stability with native shrub species, including the following:

Distichlis spicataSalt-grass
Encelia californicaCoast Sunflower
Eriogonum parvifoliumSea-cliff Buckwheat
Malacothrix saxatilis ssp. saxatilisCliff Aster
Rhus integrifoliaLemonade Berry
Suaeda taxifoliaWooly Sea-blite

Oak Woodland

Remnant Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia) trees in the area of Hammond’s Meadow suggest an Oak Forest or Woodland community likely existed along some portions of this coastline. Removal of the stand of Myoporum trees (Myoporum laetum, an introduced species) in the southeastern corner of Hammond’s Meadow would provide an area to create Oak Woodland habitat. The majority of the woody species associated with the oak community produce fleshy fruits and are bird dispersed. The following species, including several grasses, would be representative of the community as it matured in stature:

Bromus carinatus California Brome
Calystegia macrostegiaCoast Morning Glory
Heteromeles arbutifoliaToyon
Melica imperfectaSmall-flowered Melic
Platanus racemosa (at bottom of slope)Western Sycamore
Quercus agrifolia var. agrifoliaCoast Live Oak
Rubus ursinusCalifornia Blackberry
Saliva spathaceaHummingbird Sage

Chumash Ceremonial Garden

If it is desired by the descendants of Shalawa, a Chumash ceremonial garden will be planted on the meadow. One possible location is the area surrounding the monument. But this will depend on a decision by the descendants. If desired, plants important to the Chumash community and capable of surviving the conditions of Hammond’s Meadow could be planted. Input from the Chumash community will provide an appropriate list of example species, but representatives could include thhe following:

Datura wrightii Momoy/Toloache
Muhlenbergia rigensDeer Grass
Salvia apianaWhite Sage
Salvia columbariaeChia
Distichlis spicataSalt-grass
Encelia californicaCoast Sunflower
Eriogonum parvifoliumSea-cliff Buckwheat
Malacothrix saxatilis ssp. saxatilisCliff Aster
Rhus integrifoliaLemonade Berry
Suaeda taxifoliaWooly Sea-blite

Site History

Chumash History:

There was a village on the site of what is now called “Hammond’s Meadow.” This village, commonly called “Shalawa,” was occupied between approximately 1,000 C.E. and 1,300 C.E. By the time the first contact with Europeans occurred in 1542, the village had been abandoned. The reason that the village was abandoned is unknown. By the late 1700s, there was a Chumash village named Shalawa, although its precise location is unknown. A number of Chumash people told the Mission fathers that they were from Shalawa. Currently, several Chumash descendants of the residents of Shalawa live in the Santa Barbara area.

Modern History:

A mansion that was part of a 7.5 acre estate named “Bonnymede” was built by William Davidson in 1906, and the meadow was probably part of a farm. In 1912, Esther Fiske Hammond bought the Bonnymede estate, and gradually bought several adjacent properties, so that by 1927, the size of the estate had increased to 46 acres, stretching from the site of today’s Coral Casino on the west to Eucalyptus Lane to the east, and from north of the railroad to the beach.

In the early 1930s, Esther’s son, George Hammond, constructed two airstrips at Bonnymede, which included the western end of the current meadow. They were irrigated and grass-covered to reduce dust. The strips also served as a nine-hole golf course and as a polo field. Hammond became good friends with the Lester family on San Miguel Island, and over the years, George Hammond made more than 200 flights to the island to deliver mail and other supplies. Esther died in 1955; and the westerly portion of the estate was sold in 1958. The house was torn down and two luxury condominium complexes were constructed: Bonnymede and Montecito Shores. George Hammond continued to live on the estate north of the railroad until he died in 1982. Afterward, the easterly 22 acres was sold.

In 1987, the Sea Meadows housing project (Tract Map 13,416) was recorded, including 27 privately-owned parcels that now support single family homes, the 2.96-acre publicly-owned open space parcel (“Hammond’s Meadow”), a 1.25 – acre publicly-owned parcel on the beach, and two privately-owned common open space parcels owned and managed by the Sea Meadows Homeowners Association. The 2.96-acre parcel is owned by Santa Barbara County. The property was conveyed to the County in order to protect the archaeological resources of the site. The site is administered by the County Community Services Department - Parks Division. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2010, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County proposed a plan for changing the site from a weed dominated and degraded area to a restored habitat characterized by native plant species. A Conceptual Plan was prepared and presented to the various stakeholders, and a series of meetings have taken place since then in an effort to move the project forward.

In the past, the County of Santa Barbara would mow the site once each year in advance of fire season. However, when concerns were raised that the mowing equipment might damage cultural resources, the mowing practice stopped. Channel Islands Restoration (CIR) took over the project management role from the Land Trust in 2013. CIR first weeded the site with brush cutters (“weed whackers”) in May 2014, and continued the practice in 2015 and 2016. CIR also conducted a successful experiment on the site, “solarizing” castor bean. In late 2016, CIR began applying an organic herbicide to non-native weeds that were in the young seedling stage. This restoration plan is the next step in the process to restore Hammond’s Meadow.

Development of the Restoration Plan: To develop the restoration plan, we conducted site visits during the spring of 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016; reviewed County landscape practices and appropriate background literature; attended stakeholder meetings; made presentations to stakeholder groups; tested the soil, met with Chumash descendants of Shalawa, thought carefully about how to protect Chumash heritage while restoring the native plant community; and developed a landscape plan illustrating the various native plant communities that could be established at the site. A draft plan is being finalize and will be presented to stakeholder groups and the pubic, prior to submitting an application to the County for permits to start the restoration. When completed it will be posted on this web site.