Santa Barbara County supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of a controversial plan to build a new bridge and elevated road at the often washed-out Gaviota Creek crossing near Hollister Ranch. Critics agree the 256-foot bridge, 800-foot road, and associated creek reshaping pose a significant threat to the surrounding wetland area, and contend a more eco-friendly option – of moving the bridge further upstream – was prematurely dismissed. While the Gaviota Conservancy and Urban Creeks Council were the official appellants at the hearing, the Environmental Protection Agency, California Fish and Game, Army Corps of Engineers, and a spokesperson for Hollister Ranch residents have all officially expressed concern about the bridge’s environmental impacts. The $3.9 million bridge – which would be funded entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Office of Emergency Services – is far from a sure thing as it has yet to be approved by the California Coastal Commission.

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