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Land Trust for Santa Barbara County Receives Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund Grant

Earlier Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a $23,000 Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund grant to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County for its Coronado Butterfly Preserve Revitalization project.

"The board and staff of the Land Trust are extremely grateful that the Board of Supervisors has joined our other funders, the Goleta West Sanitary District and the UCSB Associated Students Coastal Fund, in our efforts to revitalize the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, a property the Land Trust acquired 16 years ago," Executive Director Chet Work said.

In 1998, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County acquired the nine-acre Coronado Butterfly Preserve, immediately adjacent to one of the region’s largest and most important overwintering sites for the Monarch Butterfly, the Ellwood Main Butterfly Grove. At the time, the now-Sperling Preserve was still privately owned, so the Coronado Butterfly Preserve was the only protected property that Monarch Butterflies could use to forage for water during their over-wintering period (October to March). Today much of the adjacent land has also been preserved.

"This CREF grant will be used to restore and enhance the Butterfly Preserve and update our interpretive signs," said Bruce Reitherman, Land Trust conservation director and Coronado Butterfly Preserve project manager. "We will use the grant to identify where we can expand and diversify native plant communities and increase the site’s natural resource value."

Children from all over the region come to the Coronado Butterfly Preserve to learn about the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly, the only migratory insect in the world. Over the course of a year, Monarchs that winter at and near the Coronado Butterfly Preserve fly as far as the Rocky mountains for the summer. This migration is so great and takes so long that it must be achieved through multiple generations of Monarchs. In the fall, they begin their return trip to California’s west coast. Those that arrive at the Coronado Butterfly Preserve are many generations removed from those that left the prior spring.

"The Land Trust is very excited about the possibility of constructing a vernal pool on the Coronado Butterfly Preserve if studies find an appropriate location for one," Work said. "We will then be able to educate visitors, especially school children, not only about Monarch Butterflies, but also about the importance of vernal pools."

Vernal pools are temporary pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals. Usually devoid of fish, vernal pools allow the safe development of native amphibian and insect species unable to withstand competition or predation by fish. When winter rains replenish pools, they teem with life. Several species of native frogs, toads and salamanders utilize vernal pools for reproduction, as do endangered species of fairy shrimp.

The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1985 and dedicated to preserving and enhancing Santa Barbara County’s natural resources, open spaces and agricultural heritage for present and future generations. To date, the LTSBC has helped to preserve nearly 24,000 acres of natural resource and agricultural land and has assisted landowners in placing conservation easements on 43 properties totaling more than 16,000 acres, including the Carpinteria Bluffs, Sedgwick Reserve and the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. These lands help Santa Barbara County maintain a productive agricultural economy, while the public enjoys open vistas and locally grown food.

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The Coronado Butterfly Preserve Revitalization Project is partially financed by the County of Santa Barbara's Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund, a partial mitigation of impacts from the following offshore oil and gas projects: Point Arguello, Point Pedernales and Santa Ynez Unit.

— Jennifer Stroh is the outreach coordinator for the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.

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