Coastal Commission Approves Monarch Habitat Plan

Permit Approval Marks Major Milestone for the Habitat Restoration Project

The City of Goleta is excited to share that the California Coastal Commission (CCC) unanimously approved a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for the City’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Phase 1 Implementation Plan at its May 10, 2024, meeting. The Phase 1 Implementation Plan builds on years of community input and scientific research to address habitat enhancement, fire prevention, public safety and access, and community participation. This decision marks a milestone for the habitat restoration project and collaborative effort between the CCC and the City.

At the meeting, Coastal Commission District Director Steve Hudson said, “As a result of climate change and recurring drought conditions, substantial portions of the 60-acre woodland have been subject to die off over recent years and we see the need for some sort of comprehensive management program. I just want to take the opportunity to thank the City for developing the plan and for working with our staff over the years. We’re really looking forward to having this one happen.”

George Thomson, City of Goleta Parks and Open Space Manager, expressed his gratitude to Coastal Commission staff, Goleta City Council, the team of scientists who invested their time and talent in the development of this Plan, and the local community that cares about the future of Ellwood. He said, “

This permit didn’t come easy or quickly. We’ve worked hard to get here, and I speak for the whole team when I say we can’t wait to get started.”

Here is what the project entails.

  • Replanting more than 1,200 eucalyptus and native trees in monarch butterfly habitat areas.
  • Installation of over 100,000 native plants to increase nectar sources for butterflies and other wildlife.
  • A new irrigation system to ensure plant establishment and future emergency tree watering.
  • Felling and chipping several thousand dead eucalyptus trees to reduce the risk of devastating wildfire.
  • A new wooden footbridge to allow all-weather and accessible access across Devereux Creek.
  • Recreational trail improvements and a signage program to reduce site impacts and increase educational opportunities.
  • Rehabilitation of two butterfly viewing areas to facilitate learning and nature appreciation.
  • Reconstruction of emergency and maintenance vehicle access to Ellwood Mesa.
  • Wildlife and nesting bird management plans to ensure the protection of sensitive environmental resources during construction.

The Coastal Development Permit includes conditions, including another review of final public access, pest management, and signage plans; and allows maintenance of trails and infrastructure for a period of ten years.

The City of Goleta invites the public to stay informed and get involved in the stewardship of Ellwood Mesa:

For more information, contact the City’s Parks and Open Space Manager George Thomson at or 805.961.7578.

Funding for the implementation of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan is provided by the California State Coastal Conservancy. The Coastal Conservancy is a California state agency, established in 1976, to protect and improve natural lands and waterways, to help people get to and enjoy the outdoors, and to sustain local economies along California’s coast. It acts with others to protect and restore, and increase public access to, California’s coast, ocean, coastal watersheds, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Its vision is of a beautiful, restored, and accessible coast for current and future generations of Californians.

Pictured: Rendering of Improvements to butterfly habitat areas include new trees and native plants. Viewing areas will include natural log benches and educational signage.