A Natural Treasure is
Restored and Protected
The Carpinteria Salt Marsh is one of the largest and most ecologically important coastal estuaries in the California, and in February 2008 the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County completed an extensive restoration project begun in the fall of 2004 to provide better wildlife habitat, opportunities for scientific research, and ways for the people to visit and learn about the coastal environment.
The project was officially completed in February 2008 and a new pedestrian bridge connecting the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park and the Land Trust public trail and habitat restoration area was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in March 2008. The marsh offers an easy quarter mile walking trail for the public to enjoy and is a haven for birdwatchers.
The Land Trust designed its Basin 1 and South Marsh Restoration Project to provide lasting environmental and community benefits. Working with the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District and the University of California Natural Reserve System, the Land Trust project:
• Restored historic tidal circulation channels to provide expanded breeding habitat for a variety of fish and invertebrates such as the California oyster.
• Reduced the build-up of silt and algae in tidal channels.
• Created new submerged cobble beds in for shellfish colonization.
• Removed non-native and invasive vegetation such as ice plant, castor bean and mustard that crowd out beneficial natives.
• Planted over 18,000 native wetland and upland plants, vastly improving the appearance and habitat quality for birds, including the endangered Belding’s savannah sparrow.
• Expanded the range of two rare wetland plants, the salt marsh bird’s beak and salt marsh goldfields.
• Provided managed public access via a new pedestrian only bridge cross Franklin Creek from the City Nature Park to a 1,200 foot interpretive path on the north of Basin I.
Carpinteria Salt Marsh History
From Highway 101, the Carpinteria Salt Marsh may not look like the thriving wildlife habitat that it is. But upon closer inspection, the marsh is a busy, healthy ecosystem filled with rare birds, fish, snails, sharks and plants. Nestled between homes, agriculture, nurseries, the railroad and freeway, the marsh is one of the last remaining coastal estuaries in California. Less than 10% of the historic wetland habitat exists in California, and this 230-acre reserve is one of the only places left where the land meets the ocean, providing an essential environment for numerous plants and wildlife.
Throughout the twentieth century, the natural habitat of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh has been altered by construction of roads, flood control measures, and residential development. Deciding to preserve part of the marsh, 11 families living in the adjacent Sandyland Cove sold their part of the marsh to the University of California Natural Reserve System (NRS) in 1977.
Later, when faced with proposed development, a partnership including the Land Trust, State Coastal Conservancy, City of Carpinteria, University of California Natural Reserve System, County Flood Control District and adjacent homeowner associations purchased the remaining portion of this valuable coastal wetland.
These owners of the marsh – City of Carpinteria, the University and the Land Trust –dedicated their efforts to enhancing the native plants and wildlife habitats found in the marsh.
Restoration Funding Partners
Work was funded in part by more than $100,000 in community donations while the following agencies provided over $1,950,000 in grants to the Land Trust for ecological restoration of Basin 1 and South Marsh in 2003-2006.
• State Coastal Conservancy
• U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
• County of Santa Barbara
• National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Directions to the Carpinteria Salt Marsh
From Hwy 101 southbound, take the Linden Ave. exit 86B. Turn right onto Linden and continue toward the beach. Make a right turn at 3rd St. and continue until the street ends, turn onto Ash Ave. and park. The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park lies along Ash Avenue. Following the trail toward the mountains and to the west will take you to the Land Trust pedestrian bridge, public trail and restoration area.
From Hwy 101 northbound, take the Casitas Pass exit 86. Turn left onto Casitas Pass and turn right on Carpinteria Avenue. Go about a quarter mile and turn left onto Linden Ave. continue toward the beach. Make a right turn at 3rd St. and continue until the street ends, turn onto Ash Avenue and park. The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park lies along Ash Avenue. Following the trail to the west will take you to the Land Trust pedestrian bridge, the quarter mile public trail, and restoration area.
Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park
Planned with the help of the Land Trust and owned by the City of Carpinteria, the Nature Park features a healthy, functioning wetland system. Complete with full color interpretive signs and nature trails, the Nature Park opened in 1997. Now used for research by the University of California, the Nature Park is a place of learning, exploring, calm and wonder.
The Nature Park is open during daylight hours every day, and docent tours of the nature park are available.
Call the City of Carpinteria Parks and Recreation Department at (805) 684-5405 for a schedule of docent led tours.