FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/07/2022
Santa Clara River Conservancy (SCRC)
P.O. Box 789, Santa Paula, CA 93061
Ventura, CA: The Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded $6,476,450 to the University of California, Santa Barbara, in partnership with the Santa Clara River Conservancy, for a significant first phase of habitat restoration and creation of public access amenities to begin this Spring on the 283-acre Cienega Springs Ecological Reserve just east of Fillmore in the vicinity of the Fillmore Fish Hatchery. Active restoration methods will reestablish and enhance riparian forest, scrub, and wetland habitats by means of collecting, growing, and installing a diversity of native riparian species and tree genotypes to promote climate resilience and drought tolerance; improving site surface-water retention; reducing abundance of competitive weeds; and maintaining vegetation according to a restoration plan. Vegetation and wildlife responses will be monitored throughout the project period to guide adaptive management and assess progress toward project goals.
A restoration and public access plan was recently completed for the degraded site; this plan included the development of baseline environmental conditions; identification of data gaps; hydrologic analysis; vegetation surveys; listed, special status and sensitive species surveys; identification of restoration opportunities and constraints; the execution of public outreach meetings; development of a restoration and public access design; identification of permitting and environmental review requirements; and identification of engineering needs.
A broad group of stakeholders was involved in the development of the conceptual design for the restoration. The stakeholder group includes the Santa Clara River Conservancy, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lands Division, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fish Hatcheries Division, the State Coastal Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, United Water Conservation District, the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, and the County of Ventura.
Extensive integration and collaboration between scientific disciplines occurred for the planning phase and will continue through the implementation of the restoration project. The disciplines include hydrology, geography, climate science, geomorphology, biology, and engineering.
The cities of Santa Paula, Fillmore, and Piru near the Cienega Springs Ecological Reserve are designated as Disadvantaged Communities. These communities have a shortage of the kind of recreational opportunities that the restored Reserve will offer, including public access to the river, access that conveys the visitor through a variety of restored wetland and riparian habitats.
The Santa Clara River Watershed, an area approximately the size of Delaware that spans two counties, is named for the largest river in the watershed and drains an extensive and biologically rich region at the junction of 5 of California’s 10 identified bioregions. The Santa Clara River is a flashy river and has already had substantial flows to the ocean this winter due to the recent rains for those lucky enough to witness the splendor of the river coming to life. The Santa Clara River is the last major coastal system in southern California that retains much of its natural hydrology and still provides the ecosystem functions necessary to sustain more than 17 federally listed species.
About Santa Clara River Conservancy: The Santa Clara River Conservancy (SCRC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit collaborative land trust focusing on restoring native habitat to the Santa Clara River Watershed, one of California’s most dynamic watersheds. The SCRC achieves this through education and outreach, land acquisition, invasive weed removal, habitat restoration, research, and community volunteerism. SCRC is looking for funding to build organizational capacity, more specifically, to address staffing needs. Contributions to support the organization’s mission and vision are welcome and appreciated.