The Goleta creek and watershed plan languished in the unrealized and unloved 2006 general city plan until a new city council majority was passed, said Stuart Kasdin, the one of the board members who took office in 2016 was supposed to follow,” Kasdin said, “and the butterfly reserve had been pushed aside and ignored, and the creeks plan was another. The new council spent around $250,000 to come up with a plan — “The images of animals crossing streams at night are really something,” Kasdin said, going off on an enthusiastic tangent — and completed it in 2019. .
With the pandemic in the rearview mirror right now, the city has now launched a survey to ask residents what aspects of stream and watershed restoration they value most. The deadline for the survey is Monday, October 31.
“If the sales tax doesn’t pass,” Kasdin said, “we would have very limited opportunities to do things, so the city wanted to ask people what things are important to do.” The sales tax he is referring to is Measure B, which asks residents if they support a one-dime increase in sales tax from 7.75% to 8.75%, which is conforms to Santa Barbara and Lompoc.
A dozen streams flow to the ocean through Goleta, an abundance reflected in the healthy aquifer that feeds the city’s many new developments and the flooding that affects low-lying areas that were once Goleta Bay. Keeping the aquifer filled by accumulating stormwater and letting it seep into the ground could be a goal, Kasdin said. For creek advocate Brian Trautwein, maintaining flows through creeks is important, not only as habitat for red-legged frogs and pond turtles, but also to keep trees and ponds alive. water-loving plants that provide a natural buffer to forest fires.
“Drought and climate change, and groundwater pumping, wells, and water pipes from streams, all of those things are draining the watershed, and we’ve been seeing streams running dry that have been flowing all year for 50 years,” said Trautwein, who grew up in Goleta and is a longtime analyst at the Environmental Defense Center. “The beautiful big trees, the alders, are also drying out,” he said. “We see them die, fall and become a fire hazard that didn’t exist before.”
Invasive plants posed another problem, Trautwein described, because they displaced native plants by taking up all the water and changing habitats and food sources. “Arundo donax, the pampas grass that has plumes used to make hats in the mid-1800s, even eucalyptus are very aggressive non-native plants that contribute to the drying up of streams,” he said. he declares. Water quality, the shape of the streambed, the concrete used to line the creek channels and stormwater runoff were other significant issues, he said.
The details of any project have yet to be determined, said George Thomson, who manages open spaces for Goleta. “The Stream and Watershed Management Plan is more about the city’s stewardship of our natural resources than a one-time project,” he said. As with the survey, the City wishes to involve the public in the effort: restoration, interpretation panels, planting days, with the aim of raising environmental awareness of the articulation of all this. He noted that county, state and federal agencies would likely be involved in authorizing any project, and that neighborhood and community guidance and buy-in were important. “The plan is written, staff will work on implementation, but public responses are what can start the grantmaking process,” Thomson said. Trautwein agreed, saying many grants were available for stream restoration and hydrological work to restore watersheds as long as the city has the funds to match the grants.
The survey can be done online in English and Spanish before Halloween.
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