Refugio Creek Arundo Removal

Location: Santa Barbara County

Project Type: Restoration

Status: Completed

Habitat Type: Riparian

Cost: $37,914

Area Affected: 4 acres

Project Footprint: 1.5 stream miles

Assembly District: 37

Senate District: 19

Congressional District: 24

Project Lead/Grantee:
Earth Island Institute (Dave Phillips;, South Coast Habitat Restoration (Mauricio Gomez;

The proposed project enabled South Coast Habitat Restoration (SCHR) and partner organizations, the Land Trust and Channel Islands Restoration, to remove 35 A. donax patches. A. donax is one of four high priority invasive species targeted for control by the Santa Barbara County Weed Management Area, and is rated “A-1” on the California Exotic Pest Council list of invasive weeds statewide. It impacts riparian systems by aggressive growth that creates monocultural stands, displacing the native riparian vegetation. The invasive plant also chokes stream channels and creates debris dams that increase bank erosion and clogging of road culverts, impeding fish travel during storm flows. The high, straight stalks of A. donax provide little shade to the creek environment, while consuming large amounts of water compared to native plant species. The Land Trust performed pre-project site assessments to determine current extent of A. donax. Channel Islands Restoration staff removed A. donax per industry standards, through the use of herbicide and through the manual removal of vegetation. They also revegetated additional riparian areas with 50 native trees (sycamores, cottonwoods, willows; provided by Santa Barbara Natives). Native trees were installed by volunteers. These plantings stabilized the creek banks, created shade to cool and conserved water in the creek, and provided better habitat than exists today for a wide array of local wildlife. Enhancing the riparian habitat quantity and quality along 1.5 miles of the creek made it a higher ranking candidate for future measures needed to allow the return of Southern California steelhead to this major creek. SCHR and the Land Trust performed post-project site assessments to monitor A. donax removal and recurrence for five years, though the Community Wetland Restoration Grant Program funded only for the first year of monitoring.