North Parcel is located to the west of UCSB's campus and features a large faculty housing project successfully integrated with 15 acres of beautiful natural areas. Initiated in 2008 with the restoration of Phelps creek, the site incorporates multiple wetlands, bioswales, and a large riparian corridor to simultaneously manage stormwater and provide habitat for wildlife. Due to the removal of the O and A soil horizons from the area in the 1960's to form Ocean Meadows Golf Course, the mainly clay B horizon was exposed and has allowed for the establishment of over 20 flourishing Vernal Pools. With its blend of developed land and native plant habitats, North Parcel is a stunning example of how humans and nature can coexist in the modern age.
Phase 1 of North Parcel consists of a linear stretch of land on the eastern side of Phelps Creek now in the minimal maintenance phase of restoration, as seen above. The area offers stunning views of wetland, riparian, and coastal sage scrub plant habitats for residents while providing habitat for numerous species like Brush Rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani) and the Merriam's Chipmunk (Tamias merriami). Common Spikerush (Eleocharis macrostachya) can be seen thriving in the Vernal Pool, while dense patches of California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) and Giant Rye (Elymus condensatus) prosper in the coastal sage scrub section. With views like this, residents have lots of opportunities to appreciate the aesthetic value of ecological restoration.
On the opposite side of Phelps Creek, the Creekside restoration area is part of the much larger Phase 2 site in North Parcel. The above photos illustrate some members of the various plant habitats present in the area, as well as some of our volunteers and interns hard at work. In the first row from left to right, Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica), found in wetland areas, can be seen next to Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and young Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) trees. Closer to homes and in a more secluded area, Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) and Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) give residents a view into the coastal sage scrub plant habitat. The volunteers and interns seen above at Creekside have been working to rid the area of Ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus), an exotic invasive grass.
Across the faculty housing complex, the Tadpole and Redtail areas in Phase 2 represent our older Vernal Pool areas and are minimally maintained, similar to Phase 1. Although there are some problems with sediment heavy runoff due to the surrounding development, these pools have been flourishing with the recent rains and will benefit local wildlife by holding water for long into the spring. Although the removal of upper soil horizons for creation of the golf course was detrimental for quite some time, CCBER has adapted to the conditions and used this clay rich soil to our advantage in the creation of Vernal Pool habitats.
The Whitetail area of North Parcel seen above consists of a large Vernal Pool meadow, with individual pools connected by channels that flood with heavy rains. This site has been designed to be deal with runoff via its multi-level pool system while also providing residents with a peaceful walk through native wildflowers like Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor) and California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), pictured below. Like many other vernal pools in our restoration areas, these waters are home to an abundance of Baja California Treefrog (Pseudacris hypochondriaca) tadpoles. The amazing biodiversity present in Whitetail and all our North Parcel areas shows that suburban development need not destroy local areas - in some cases it can even lead to their restoration!
Thanks for reading about the amazing restoration work carried out by staff, interns and volunteers! Follow CCBER on Facebook and Instagram for information about biodiversity and restoration in our local areas.