Undeveloped coastal properties rank among the most valuable commodities in California, and protecting them is a battle often lost. Carpinterians, however, have triumphed not once but twice, as this week the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County announced the completion of its $7.9 million campaign to preserve the 21-acre Bluffs III property on the east end of Carpinteria Avenue.
Bringing the San Ysidro Oak Woodland Back- Better than Ever
For the past several months, Land Trust staff has been working closely with the Ennisbrook Home Owners Association in Montecito to strategize ways to clear mud and flood debris from the 44-acre San Ysidro Oak Woodland. This open space running along San Ysidro Creek, owned by the Ennisbrook HOA and conserved by the Land Trust, provides the community with opportunities for bird and butterfly watching and hiking trails that wind through groves of ancient oak and sycamore. The area was heavily impacted by the debris flows on January 9th; nearly all of the easement was inundated with mud, rock and debris from the destroyed properties uphill. The adjacent neighborhood of Glen Oaks and the Randall Road area were the hardest hit areas in all of Montecito.
Last week, the Land Trust learned that we were successful in attracting nearly $200K in FEMA funds to support restoration of the San Ysidro Oak Woodland. The Ennisbrook HOA has pledged additional funds to match and augment the cleanup effort and we are excited that many members of the community are also engaged in supporting the effort. It was through extremely quick action that the Land Trust was able to solicit these funds as the close of the FEMA granting period for mitigation funds was in early March.
We are so grateful to the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade! They immediately took on a huge portion of the work needed at Ennisbrook. These volunteers and their leadership were the first to understand the needs of the trees and were the first to contact the Land Trust and Ennisbrook HOA with an interest in helping the beloved open space.
But there is more to be done.
Soon after the debris event, the Land Trust determined that the cost of removing all the soil, rock and debris from the property would be prohibitive and that a solution was needed that would work around the new landform. With members of the HOA and a dedicated group of neighbors, we have embraced a strategy to clear the destruction debris, remove soil from around the hundreds of oak trees and restore the native vegetation to the creek and the uplands.
Over the course of the next few weeks and months you will see countless volunteers from the Bucket Brigade and work crews hired by the Land Trust continuing to clean the property working on removal of soil from around the oaks. You will also begin to see revegetation efforts and weed management projects take shape. We foresee planting native shrubs along the creek, adding new oak trees, and an intensive effort to manage the ever-present invasive weeds.
The Ennisbrook easement is a special place. Over the years, it has come to be known by neighbors and locals as the “100 Acre Wood,” reminiscent of the Winnie the Pooh tales. This property has shaped the lives of many generations of kids and offers a unique recreation experience in the heart of Montecito. As part of the original Ennisbrook development approval in the late 1980s, a conservation easement restricting development along the creek was granted to the Land Trust and a public trail easement was granted to the County of Santa Barbara. The property is owned by the Home Owners Association of the Ennisbrook development and today the trails are managed and maintained by our partners at the Montecito Trails Foundation.
With the help of our engaged community, we look forward to the impact this property will have on the next generation of Santa Barbara kids.