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Local News

Storm Causes Erosion Damage at Recently Completed Arroyo Burro Creek Restoration Project

Santa Barbara city creeks division will start repairs and replace vegetation after the end of the rainy season

Last week’s storm caused erosion damage to the upper Arroyo Burro Creek restoration project site in Barger Canyon. Click to view larger
Last week’s storm caused erosion damage to the upper Arroyo Burro Creek restoration project site in Barger Canyon. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The heavy rainfall that hit the Central Coast last week tore up a small portion of the newly-completed $1-million upper Arroyo Burro Creek restoration project in Santa Barbara's Barger Canyon, causing erosion in a 100-foot section of the approximate 2,090 linear feet of creek.

The property received more than 7 inches of rain, according to Cameron Benson, the city's creeks division manager.

“At a new restoration site, we would expect to see some erosion,” Benson said. “When we get a big storm in a small amount of time — there’s a lot of water coming down quickly, and that can cause erosion.”

The bank erosion was near the creek channel where it was widened at the downstream end of the site. 

Crews are expected to begin repairs in May or June when the rainy season is over.

“Nothing is threatened by (the damage),” Benson said. “There’s no need to rush to do it as an emergency repair. Overall, the project at Barger Canyon performed well. We may take some steps now to protect the bank from further erosion, but will fully repair and replant the bank after the rainy season."

Benson said no structures were threatened.

In December, the city Creeks Division completed the rehabilitation project, which sits adjacent to single family residences and just north of Foothill Road, between Barger Canyon Road to the west and a private driveway to the east.

The project focused on the restoration of about 5 acres of habitat, including the removal of debris and existing concrete structures in the creek.

Crews removed debris from the creek channel and planted vegetation all over a 5-acre area for the upper Arroyo Burro Creek restoration project, which suffered erosion damage after recent rains. Click to view larger
Crews removed debris from the creek channel and planted vegetation all over a 5-acre area for the upper Arroyo Burro Creek restoration project, which suffered erosion damage after recent rains.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

During the rehabilitation project, more than 4,500 native riparian plants and trees were installed to help restore wildlife habitat, stabilize creek banks and improve water quality.

Some vegetation near the lower section was damaged during the storm.

“The repair will involve moving dirt and rock material, and replanting the area,” Benson said.

The city doesn't yet have a cost estimate for repairs. Funding is provided by Measure B, a voter-approved measure to increase the transient-occupancy tax rate.

“Relative to the ($1-million) project, the cost will be small,” Benson said.

The recent rainstorms also caused major damage to the in-progress Lower Mission Creek Flood Control project near Santa Barbara’s Amtrak station and resulted in downed utility lines and toppled trees all over the city. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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