Since 2000, the Santa Barbara Airport has been implementing the largest environmental restoration project on the south central coast as mitigation for the Airfield Safety Projects.
Approximately one-half of the Airport property - about 430 acres - is comprised of the Goleta Slough State Marine Park. As proud stewards of the Slough, the Santa Barbara Airport is actively managing 55-acres of the Park that is currently undergoing planting, maintenance, and monitoring, as part of this restoration effort. This coastal wetland is recognized as one of the few remaining saltmarsh habitats in California.
A $2.2 million mitigation effort to restore 25 acres of wetland habitat was undertaken in 2000. The entire project including the grading and environmental mitigation was funded by a $4.7 million Federal Grant. More than 125 acres of airfield around the runways and taxiways were cleared, leveled and compacted. Since wetland plants were removed from some of the infield areas as part of this project, mitigation was necessary to meet State and Federal requirements.
With the financial assistance of the California Coastal Conservancy, the Airport restored tidal circulation to a 2-acre portion of the Goleta Slough. This project will provide a scientific foundation for assessing the feasibility of a larger tidal program.
The project began in 2005 as part of a 3-year monitoring period wich will include monitoring of bird use, invertebrate colonization (clams, snails, and other mollusks, as well as insects), tidal levels, and vegetation. This site-specific data will address the potential birdstrike issue and will provide guidance to Santa Barbara Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration on how to proceed with future coastal wetland restoration projects.
Area I is a 25-acre site on the south side of the Goleta Slough near UCSB. The Santa Barbara Airport is restoring this site to its native wetland habitat as part of a 4-to-1 mitigation for impacts to wetlands that take place during the Creek Relocation. This restoration includes the removal of invasive species.
At Area I, the Santa Barbara Airport has removed invasive non-native species and planted native plants. These plants were carefully grown by Growing Solutions at the Airport Nursery using seeds collected on in the Slough.
These restoration projects are excellent examples of how the Airport has improved safety operations while enhancing the environment.