On March 19, 2019, the City Council adopted the Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve Open Space Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan (MBHMP) and the associated environmental document. The MBHMP will maintain and improve the monarch butterfly seasonal aggregation habitat areas to ensure long-term viability of the monarch butterfly population and a variety of other native plant and animal species while allowing for coastal access, education and recreation.
Growing concern over the drought-stressed and dying eucalyptus trees in the butterfly groves led to the finalization of the MBHMP. Now, with Council adoption, planning is underway to carry out the MBHMP’s management actions in fall 2019, pending approval from the California Coastal Commission. An Implementation Plan for the MBHMP, prepared in November 2018 and submitted to the Coastal Commission, outlines the planting and maintenance of eucalyptus trees and native plants on the western flank of the “Ellwood North” monarch aggregation area, where the tree die off has been the most severe. This Implementation Plan would enhance 0.58 acres of eucalyptus grove habitat and plant 0.11 acres of toyon and lemonade berry scrub along the edge of Ellwood North, outside the boundaries of the eucalyptus grove.
City staff continues to work with the Coastal Conservancy to implement a funding agreement securing the $3.9 million allocated in the FY 2017-18 State budget for restoration of the Ellwood eucalyptus groves. The Coastal Conservancy is expected to take action on this matter on May 16, 2019.