Ellwood Mesa Update

Hi Goleta, I’m George Thomson, City of Goleta Parks and Open Space Manager. You may have noticed a buzz of activity taking place at Ellwood Mesa. Here is an update of our work there.

Tree Cleanup

Crews are trimming and chipping hazardous trees damaged during the 2023 winter storms. This is an important first step in reducing the risk of fire. Large trunks are being sectioned and left in place or repurposed for natural trail barriers. Brush and branches are being chipped and will be spread around the grove to improve trails, enhance water retention, and promote healthy trees. We are expediting this work ahead of the monarch overwintering season when we will halt tree work in the sensitive areas of the grove. Work will continue through the winter in areas away from active monarch aggregation sites, as determined by our monarch scientists from Althouse and Meade.

Grove trail toward Ellwood parking lot: March 2023 after storm and September 2023 after cleanup of storm-damaged trees

Road repair

In addition to the tree work, the access road at the end of Santa Barbara Shores that crosses Devereux Creek will undergo a temporary emergency repair this month. Please help keep people, pets, and the crews safe by following posted detours.

Fire Prevention / Hazardous Fuels Reduction

We are still waiting for a permit waiver from the California Coastal Commission to begin our long-planned fire prevention tree and vegetation work. We anticipate a decision during their November meeting, and we are prepared to begin immediately. Many friends of Ellwood Mesa wrote letters of support to the Coastal Commission to help highlight the urgency and importance of this work. We genuinely appreciate your support and will continue to keep you apprised of the work as it proceeds. Thank you!

City Councilmember Stuart Kasdin is hosting a Firewise USA Meeting for Ellwood Neighborhoods, Thursday October 12, 6:30-8:00 pm at Ellwood Elementary School. Firewise USA® is a free and voluntary national program that provides a framework to help neighbors get organized, find direction, and work together to increase the preparedness and resilience of their homes and communities to wildfire. Find details at CityofGoleta.org/ellwood-firewise.

Monarch Butterfly Habitat Enhancement

The City-approved Ellwood Mesa Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan (2019) is the roadmap for enhancement and management activities that will be implemented within the monarch habitat. As you know, the City of Goleta has been working on the first specific Implementation Plan for many years. This Phase 1 Implementation Plan is based on 20 years of planning and over six years of butterfly studies, research, analysis, modeling, project design, and community input. It will be presented to the Goleta City Council October 17 and, if approved, will be submitted to the California Coastal Commission and other permitting agencies. Draft documents are now available on the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Plan Phase 1 Implementation project page.

We eagerly anticipate starting work as soon as all permits are obtained, hopefully in early 2024.

The Plan focuses on habitat enhancement for monarchs and other wildlife, wildfire protection, public safety and access, and community engagement.

Volunteer Opportunity

The City’s monarch specialists will be training volunteers to help count monarchs during the overwintering season (roughly November to February) for the Western Monarch Thanksgiving and New Years Counts. More information can be found at Western Monarch Count. If you wish to be notified of training opportunities, please sign up here.

Stay in Touch

Please visit cityofgoleta.org/ellwood for project details and to sign up for City text or email updates. If you have any questions or comments, please email ellwoodmesa@cityofgoleta.org and someone from our team will get back to you. And if you know anyone else who would like to receive these communications in the future, please have them reach out so we can add their name to the list.