Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
VENTURA:Restoring Coastal Watersheds in the City of Santa Barbara
California-Nevada Offices , October 26, 2007
Print Friendly Version
BEFORE: Mesa Creek Culvert in March 2006 prior to construction.
BEFORE: Mesa Creek Culvert in March 2006 prior to construction. - Photo Credit: n/a
AFTER: Mesa Creek and Arroyo Burro Estuary post construction in October 2007. (USFWS Photos) 
AFTER: Mesa Creek and Arroyo Burro Estuary post construction in October 2007. (USFWS Photos)  - Photo Credit: n/a














By Mary Root, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office

The Arroyo Burro Estuary and Mesa Creek Restoration Project restored coastal habitats within the city limits of Santa Barbara, California.  The project specifically restored and expanded estuarine, riparian, coastal live oak woodland, and coastal sage scrub habitats at the confluence of Arroyo Burro Creek and Mesa Creek, and increased aquatic species access to additional habitats that occur upstream of the site.  The project involves many partners working together to fund and support the City of Santa Barbara Creek Division (City) in implementing the project.  Numerous partners provided funding for the project including the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, California State Coastal Conservancy, California Wildlife Conservation Board, California Parks and Recreation Department, and the County of Santa Barbara’s Agricultural Commissioner’s office. In addition, more than 100 community volunteers helped to install native plants for the project.


The project site occurs within the City-owned and managed Douglas Family Preserve, which is immediately upstream of Arroyo Burro Beach County Park.  The project also falls within a high priority area on the central California coast, where native habitat restoration and protection are vital for conserving over 85 federally-listed species along this stretch of coastline.  The Arroyo Burro Creek watershed extends from the Los Padres National Forest through the City of Santa Barbara to the Arroyo Burro Creek estuary and beach.


In 2006, the project removed a 300-foot concrete culvert that formerly conveyed Mesa Creek, then reconstructed a new creek channel on Mesa Creek, and doubled the estuarine habitat at the confluence of the two creeks by expanding the existing wetlands into formerly disturbed habitats adjacent to the estuary.  Community volunteers helped to install over 5,000 native plants.  The project also constructed trails and a footbridge to improve and manage public access along Arroyo Burro Creek and over the newly constructed Mesa Creek channel.


The project highlights a community-based restoration project which benefits an urban watershed and provides important conservation benefits to the federally endangered tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) and southern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and numerous other native species including many migratory birds.


The project is consistent with and supports the Recovery Plan for the Tidewater Goby (Service 2005), the California Wildlife Action Plan (California Department of Fish and Game 2006), the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project, and the City of Santa Barbara’s efforts to develop and implement an Arroyo Burro Watershed Action Plan.  It also enhances the benefits of another Partners for Fish and Wildlife project that occurred upstream of the estuary where large stands of an invasive plant, giant reed (Arundo donax), were previously removed.


For more information, contact:  

Mary Root

Conservation Partnerships Program

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Ventura Field Office

2493 Portola Road, Suite B

Ventura, CA. 93003 

(805) 644-1766 ext 233

(805) 644-3958 fax



George Johnson

Creeks Supervisor

City of Santa Barbara

(805) 897-1958


Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State

Search by Region

US Fish and Wildlife Service footer