Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove title=
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove
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Ellwood Monarch Grove in Goleta (Photo: Robert Bernstein)

Source: City of Goleta

The City of Goleta is thrilled to announce that the State Budget, signed today by Governor Jerry Brown, includes $3.9 million in funding for the Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Grove.  These funds will help the City of Goleta address the management and restoration actions related to the butterfly habitat at Ellwood Mesa which has suffered greatly because of the drought. 

“The City of Goleta is grateful for the leadership of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson in securing funding for this important project.  The Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Grove is a precious resource within our City limits that we must carefully and thoughtfully work to protect in perpetuity,” said Mayor Paula Perotte. “These funds will help the City engage in a robust outreach process during the development of the management plan and also provide assistance in the restoration process.”

Senator Jackson said, “The people of Goleta have had a longstanding commitment to preserving this critical habitat for the extraordinary Monarch butterfly. I have been privileged to participate in that process and I am committed to ensuring the continued enjoyment of this area, both for the butterflies and those who appreciate them.”

The funds will be available as grants for this project through the State Coastal Conservancy.


In the summer of 2017, the City of Goleta received the results of a tree health assessment performed as part of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan preparation process. The results revealed the presence of more than 1,000 standing dead and dying eucalyptus trees (over 20% of the population of the grove) on Ellwood Mesa. Many of these trees were severely impacted by the drought, which increased their vulnerability to the invasion of pests.

The City Council discussed options to address habitat impacts and public safety risks resulting from the presence of dead and dying trees during two public meetings in September 2017. After a great deal of public comment and City Council deliberation, the Council approved a plan to remove 28 trees along key public trails.

The City Council asked staff to expedite the development of a management plan and permitting process, which typically takes 3-5 years, with permitting and environmental review. The draft plan will include management and restoration actions related to changing conditions on Ellwood Mesa. Specifically, continuing severe drought and the extensive presence of dead trees create unique resource management challenges that will need to be addressed by the Plan.

The Ellwood Mesa is also home to many other vulnerable plant and animal species, and is a key nesting site for several different types of raptors. The vast canopy and understory provide critical habitat for these species, while the trees counter act the effect of greenhouse gas emissions. The City Council is committed to the effort of restoring the Ellwood Mesa and maintaining this valuable resource for the enjoyment of the community. The City requested an allocation of $4 million for the Ellwood Mesa Habitat Management Plan and restoration for the nearly 74 acres it covers.

The Ellwood Mesa is the heart of Goleta for many people and symbolizes the commitment the City has made to protect and restore critical coastal open space. The monarch butterfly holds a special place in the hearts of many Goleta residents, and is part of our City’s identity, as it appears on our logo and was the inspiration for the name of our community newsletter, The Monarch Press.

Ellwood Main is designated by The Xerces Society as “the premier Monarch site in southern California” (https://xerces.org/where-to-see-monarchs-in-california/#santabarbara).  The Ellwood monarch habitat is one of the three best known monarch butterfly aggregation sites in California along with Pismo Beach, and Pacific Grove.  Ellwood Main once held the highest number of overwintering butterflies in California. 

For many years prior to the drought, thousands of visitors a year came to Ellwood Main to view tens-of-thousands of butterflies. The County-wide survey report of monarch butterfly aggregation sites conducted in 1998-1999, stated, “Year after year, Ellwood Main is the most visited site in Santa Barbara County.” It remained a highly visited location until the grove was closed in 2017 due to the many dead and dying trees along trails and butterfly viewing areas.  Multiple aggregation sites are essential to the survival of the monarch butterfly overwintering phenomena, especially as development, climate change, and drought affect tree health and eliminate aggregation locations. Monarch butterfly numbers have dropped dramatically in the recent years, prompting consideration for listing the species as threatened or endangered.  Only by protecting their habitat will they survive.

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Factotum Jun 28, 2018 03:43 PM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

How else do we spend other people's money in this town. City now spending nearly $2 million dollars of our money to clean up Arroyo Burro Creek getting rid of a non-native weed; while others spend nearly $4 million dollars of our money protecting non-native species elsewhere in our county. OPM is the drug; elected officials are the addicts. $6 million of our money for the "environment" earns them a lot of votes.

Flicka Jun 28, 2018 02:58 PM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

Butterflies are going the way of honey bees, less and less numbers; both help by pollinating plants which keeps our fruits, vegetables, and flowers going. With pesticides and development killing and taking habitats it is more important than ever to protect the ones we have left.

Lucky 777 Jun 28, 2018 10:15 AM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

You'd think, with that kind of money tossing around, they could have made regular tanker truck deliveries of water over the past 7 years and prevented the trees from dying. If Oprah can truck in water to keep her estate green surely the government could have considered that option also.

Red Creek Jun 28, 2018 09:21 AM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

The symbol of the City is a monarch. There have been numerous public hearings and meetings on the Ellwood open space and the neighboring butterfly area. The consensus from Goleta residents has been to save the trees and manage the grove so that monarchs can flourish, or at least survive, through drought and other depredations. The funds from the state will go a long way towards helping the grove and the surrounding park.

a-1530204311 Jun 28, 2018 09:45 AM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

If the consensus of Goleta is to save this spot why don't they find money from their own coffers to do so? Really, the consensus is to spend other people's money on what they want. And I imagine that there will be even further limits on the rights of these other people to visit their money.

RHS Jun 28, 2018 08:28 AM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

I consider myself an environmentalist, a progressive and a supporter of government action but this is silly. These butterflies have existed for thousands of years and certainly made their living long before eucalyptus trees found their way to California. Maybe the money spent here will help a few people have jobs but it is really just a pork barrel sop to Sen Jackson's crowd.

Factotum Jun 28, 2018 08:37 AM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

Eucalyptus trees were imported to California from Australia in the mid 19th century and planted in groves along the railway tracks hoping to provide necessary timber for railway ties. The wood proved to be too brittle and the groves remain as non-indigenous species. Indeed, what did the monarch butterflies do in their prior migrations before the artificial introduction of these non-native species. I am all for protecting them as well as all other migratory species. Plant milkweed at least, or any of the other drought-tolerant buttterfly attraction options.

ParvoPup Jun 27, 2018 10:06 PM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

According to an archived 2017 Google article from the SB Independent, the number of Monarchs counted in the 2016 season ranged from a high of 11,000 to a low of 122.

3.9 Million divided among those ranges means that a Butterfly is worth between a high of $31,967 apiece to a low of $354 and change.

Pretty darn pricey for a bug.

a-1530161338 Jun 27, 2018 09:48 PM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

3.9 Million.
1.5 Million will be diverted to cover Pension Shortfalls.
1.0 Million will be spent on Butterfly Awareness at the K-12 Level.
500 Thousand will create ads for Butterfly Tourism.
300 Thousand will re-stripe the parking lot.
200 Thousand will purchase 4 Butterfly informational signs.
150 Thousand will provide Liability Insurance for Butterfly allergies.
100 Thousand will address omission of Tagalog on Butterfly signs.
75 Thousand will cover the waste haulage fee from MarBorg.
50 Thousand will pay for a landscaper to blow leaves off the paths.
20 Thousand will simply disappear from the books.
5 Thousand will be paid out to each Butterfly at the rate of 25 cents per individual fly.

Factotum Jun 27, 2018 04:30 PM
Goleta to Receive $3.9 Million for Monarch Grove

Finally Senator Jackson did something for her local constituents; instead of always working against them. If you can call transient butterflies, local constituents. But we'll take it. After all, it is only other people's money.

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