May 2009. UCSB's Coastal Fund has provided SBTC with a $6,000 grant to make improvements to the Ellwood Mesa trails and beach access points.
Thanks to the grant from the Coastal Fund, SBTC is working with with Goleta City Parks Department to begin a comprehensive review of the Public Access and Recreation Element of the Open Space Plan with the goal of providing the Parks Department with the information needed to update it.
SBTC also proposes to develop educational and interpretive materials support use of the Ellwood Mesa open space area in a way that is compatible with the primary goal of protecting the natural resources and habitats of the area.
Last, SBTC proposes to undertake a review of the impacts from erosion and other environmental damage and to rehabilitate specific areas that now pose a user safety hazard.
Proposal 1. Update Recreation Element
As noted above, recommendations in the Recreation Element of the Open Space Plan have yet to be implemented. As shown in Figure 1 below, the Mesa area consists of a complex network of existing trails, mostly established informally over the past several decades without any planning or conscious effort towards sustainable design.
Currently, much of the data relating to trail conditions is out-of-date, primarily due to the additional amounts of erosion caused by poor trail design. SBTC proposes a complete review of the trail network, including collection of data for each trail, assessment of its current physical condition and recommendations for rehabilitation.
Proposal 2. Develop Trail Sign, Educational and Interpretive Materials
Use of interpretive materials and trail signage can provide a powerful means to educate users about Ellwood Mesa resources and to provide them with an understanding of how they can help protect the area. Critical habitats include coastal dunes, vernal pools, native grasslands and the Monarch groves. The Monarch Butterfly Preserve and Snowy Plover nesting areas are particularly sensitive.
Issues that relate to these habitats include use of social trails or off-trail use, inappropriate uses such as dogs off leash and lack of understanding of impacts of use of these environments. All can contribute to resources damage, often without users understanding the impacts of their actions.
SBTC proposes the development of trailhead materials to provide more in depth knowledge of critical habitat resources, endangered species and appropriate user practices (in both Spanish and English) along with strategically placed trail signage in the Mesa area to serve as reminders of why the resources need protection.
Proposal 3. Undertake Erosion Control and Rehabilitation of Trails, Bluff Areas & Coastal Access Points
Because of the lack of long term planning or use of sustainable trail design techniques, many of the Ellwood Bluff area trails suffer from varying degrees of erosion. In some cases bluff top areas are in danger of collapse; in others gullying has created serious erosion issues. In all of the cases, the damage is leading to user safety issues.
SBTC has identified five areas in need of trail restoration or erosion control measures to prevent further damage and to deal with user safety issues.