Goleta Provides Update on Closed Ellwood Mesa Trails
Photo: Map of Goleta's Butterfly Grove and closed trails (Larger size)
Source: City of Goleta
Earlier this summer, the City received a tree health assessment performed as part of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan. As a result of this study, the City learned that a significant number of trees in the Ellwood Mesa are dead or dying. Many of the dead and dying eucalyptus trees in the forest were severely impacted by the drought which increased their vulnerability to pests. In an abundance of caution, and at the advice of the City’s insurer, some trails on the Ellwood Mesa are temporarily closed due to the potential for falling trees.
City staff informed the City Council at the July 18th meeting and then held the first public meeting on July 26th to present the information to the community about the tree health and the next steps.
Since that time, there has been a tremendous amount of work done throughout City Hall and with our consultants, Althouse and Meade. Our project team, collaboratively lead by Planning and Public Works, has moved thoughtfully and expediently through the process of reviewing additional information on tree health and impacts to the butterfly habitat, evaluating tree removal options, meeting with multiple outside agencies on best practices and preparing to bring back an item to Council for them to choose which is their preferred approach.
During the evening session of the September 5th City Council meeting, the report on the Emergency Conditions on the Ellwood Mesa will be presented and your thoughts and comments are encouraged. This report includes information on the project objectives: to protect public health and safety, maximize the potential for prompt restoration of the grove and restore public access to the trails system. The report also identifies project options, proposed methods for removing dead and hazardous trees, environmental protections during the project implementation, and permitting and environmental review.
Due to the complexity and volume of information surrounding this project, the staff report has been released early. It is our hope that this timeframe will allow our residents ample time read and understand the information prior to the Council meeting. The staff report can be found here. Staff is not asking the City Council to make a determination at this meeting, but to receive the staff report, ask questions, and listen to public comment.
A second meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on September 7th for a special Council workshop on Ellwood Mesa. At this meeting, staff will be available to answer questions, additional public input will be heard, and the Council will be asked to decide and direct staff on how to proceed with the project.
The project page on our website can be found here: http://www.cityofgoleta.org/
If you have questions or comments in advance of the meeting, please send them to [email protected] so staff can address them.