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Restoration Partners to Plant Thousands of Native Plants Along Refugio Creek

Refugio plants
Children and adult volunteers have helped plant more than 2,000 native plants on either side of Refugio Creek. The last planting day will be this Saturday, and help is needed. (Channel Islands Restoration photo)

By Ken Owen for Channel Islands Restoration |

Local nonprofit organizations South Coast Habitat Restoration and Channel Islands Restoration, both of Carpinteria, have partnered with the California State Parks at Refugio State Beach to plant thousands of potted native plants in a combined effort to restore the native habitat alongside the mouth of Refugio Creek.

The project area is roughly 30,000 square feet on either side of Refugio Creek, and since Jan. 11 is in the process of being planted with 3,000 native container plants.

This project has been made possible with funding from The Earth Island Institute and support from the State Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board,  the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project and Southern California Edison.

In May 2012, the project partners established goals to increase the habitat and ecological value of the mouth of Refugio Creek through the removal of non-native flora and planting of native flora along the banks. Non-native vegetation at the site included Fan Palms, Guadalupe Palms, Myoporum, Arundo, Black Acacia, Pampas Grass, Fennel, Castor Bean, Brazilian Pepper trees, California Pepper trees, Eucalyptus, as well as annual grasses.

Non-native trees and shrubs were removed from the site in October 2013. The non-native vegetation was mulched on site to be used around the newly installed native plants at the time of planting to help shade out weeds and maintain soil moisture. A number of existing native riparian trees, willows and cottonwoods were maintained on site.

Native flora to be planted at the site includes riparian trees and coastal scrub species. The native vegetation will provide shade for the creek and over hanging cover habitat for aquatic species as well as forage and nesting habitat for birds.

“We are proud to be part of this effort to work with our project partners to restore the creek at Refugio State Beach," said Ken Owen, director of Channel Islands Restoration. "This project will greatly enhance habitat for native plants and animals and will improve the experience for park visitors.”

Planting began on Jan. 11 with more than 50 adults and children participating — all local volunteers from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties recruited by CIR and SCHR.. Additional planting dates were held Jan. 18, Jan. 20, Jan. 25 and Feb. 15. In total, over the last two months 184 community volunteers have contributed their time to the project planting over 2,000 native plants.

“This community restoration effort has been generously supported by grant funding from the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, the Wildlife Conservation Board, Earth Island Institute, and Southern California Edison, and wouldn’t be possible without the support of California State Parks,” said Erin Brown, project manager of South Coast Habitat Restoration.

There is only one planting day left. We hope you will join us from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Saturday, March 8. Tools, gloves, water and snacks will be provided. RSVPs to the event are not required, but appreciated! Email us at info@schabitatrestoration.org to RSVP.

— Ken Owen is the director of Channel Islands Restoration.




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