Since 2010, Channel Islands Restoration (CIR) in partnership with the San Marcos Foothills Coalition (SMFC) has restored habitat for native animals in several critical areas on the Preserve. Financial support for these projects came from the SMFC, the Goleta Valley Land Trust and outdoor retailers, REI and Patagonia.
These projects were designed to improve the native plant communities that support species such as burrowing owls, breeding grasshopper sparrows, breeding white-tailed kites, raptors, and other native animals.
Two of the larger projects were designed to increase biodiversity and ecological function on approximately three acres of burned riparian and coastal sage scrub habitat adjacent to Atascadero and Cieneguitas Creeks. Long-term grazing in these areas favored the growth of non-native and invasive plants, and the area was damaged by the Jesusita Fire in 2009.
Following the fire, both sites saw a marked increase in the presence of non-native invasive plants. CIR started by removing invasive plant species with the help of hundreds of volunteers, and and this was followed by the planting of more than 4,700 native plants grown from locally collected seed.
In addition to the creekside projects, CIR has been removing invasive plants along trails, particularly in native grassland areas and wetlands. We have also planted natives at the Preserves' Via Gaitero entrance. As of this writing (August 2015) CIR has worked with a total 1,319 volunteers on the San Marcos Foothills Preserve!