Santa Barbara, CA, March 12, 2014 – Two local non-profit organizations, the Santa Barbara Zoo and Channel Islands Restoration (CIR), have jointly received two grants totaling $60,901 to restore habitat for migrating birds along the Andree Clark Bird Refuge in Santa Barbara.

A $30,901 grant was awarded by the County of Santa Barbara’s Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF) and a $29,900 grant was awarded by the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project (WRP) to fund the project.

The funding will be used to remove non-native plants, including invasive trees that degrade habitat along the Bird Refuge. More than 1,500 native plants will be installed as part of the project, and at least 200 people are expected to volunteer. At least 1.4 acres will be restored.

“This restoration project is vital to the survival of migrating birds and other threatened animals that rely on the Bird Refuge” said Ken Owen, Executive Director of Channel Islands Restoration. “This project would not happen without the support of the CREF and WRP grants and the huge contributions of staff time from the Zoo and the City.”

The Bird Refuge provides habitat to 228 bird species, 43 of which nest there. It is one of only two locations in Santa Barbara where Double-crested Cormorants and Black-crowned Night-Herons breed, and is also home to the Western Pond turtle — a California species of special concern — and the tidewater goby — a federally endangered fish.

“This project allows us to open more habitat for native plants and animals, right in the Zoo’s backyard,” said Dr. Estelle Sandhaus, the Zoo’s Director of Conservation and Research. “We are able to show the restoration progress to our visitors, as this area is visible from the Zoo Train and from our California Trails exhibit, which features endangered native species like California condors and Channel Island foxes.”

The restoration work is expected to start this summer and will be completed in about a year, followed by ongoing maintenance work. The current project is the second phase of a two phase project at the Bird Refuge. The first phase, completed in 2013, restored about three-quarters of an acre along the Bird Refuge. Over 800 native plants were installed and 365 people volunteered for the project. The Zoo and the City of Santa Barbara donated a combined $31,789 in staff time to the first phase of the project, and both agencies will contribute additional staff to the second phase of the project.


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