On May 16, 2019, the Coastal Conservancy approved $3.9 million in funding (previously authorized for expenditure during adoption of the State budget) to the City of Goleta for implementation of the Ellwood Mesa Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan (MBHMP). As noted in the May issue of the Monarch Press, the MBHMP was approved by City Council on March 19, 2019. Growing concern over the drought-stressed and dying eucalyptus trees in the butterfly groves led to the finalization of the MBHMP. The MBHMP identifies how the City will preserve, restore, and enhance the monarch butterfly overwintering habitat. It also includes enhancement of other wildlife habitats, education and outreach, trail improvements, signage, monitoring, and research.
The funds administered by the Coastal Conservancy allow the City to begin implementing the MBHMP and help restore the ecosystem on the Ellwood Mesa. This will not only support the monarch butterfly population, but other vulnerable plant and animal species as well. Key components include:
- Expedite the completion of the MBHMP Implementation Plan and necessary permitting.
- Remove and replace dead trees to optimize butterfly habitat value and increase human safety along trails and observation sites.
- Identify and reduce potential impacts to monarch butterfly habitat including pest infestations, trash and debris, and other threats that may arise over time.
- Support implementation of Goleta’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan in the buffer zone between the open space and adjacent housing.
- Design, construct, and install an interpretive signage program that is sensitive to the environment.
- Improve and maintain public recreational features such as trails, trail markers, and benches.
- Expand the docent program.
The City will begin work on the MBHMP implementation plan as soon as necessary permits are obtained, which is anticipated to be by September. Restoration work will continue incrementally over the next few years.