— The Goodland Outlook, Edition 39 — September 1, 2017
URGENT NOTICE OF A SPECIAL HEARING ON ELLWOOD MESA EUCALYPTUS GROVE
This is a special edition of The Goodland Outlook for a September 5 Goleta city council meeting on dealing with dead and dying trees in and around the Ellwood Mesa Eucalyptus Grove.
The meeting on September 5 begins at 6:00PM at Goleta City Council chambers at City Hall. The purpose of this meeting is “… to receive the staff report, ask questions, and listen to public comment.” You can find the staff report here.
As the city announced, “A second meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on September 7th for a special Council meeting. 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 staff report for this meeting can be found here.
THE GOODLAND COALITION’S RECOMMENDATIONS: The Goodland Coalition fully endorses the “Option 6” recommendations detailed in the position paper below by The Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs. Their recommended approach would provide for safe public access to Ellwood Mesa and the Ocean while protecting priceless Monarch habitat.
* * * Please join The Goodland Coalition in telling city council and staff that we want them to adopt the “Option 6” approach of The Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs.* * *
If you want to be more specific, you can add the following. We want Goleta to:
– create and implement a short-term plan that provides for public trails to areas currently lacking a safe route to Ellwood Mesa and the ocean, while attending only to the trees that pose a real and imminent threat to public safety along these trails. This includes providing adequate signage and maps for the public.
– delay any large-scale removal of trees until a restoration plan is prepared, reviewed by the public and approved.
– expedite the development and approval of a Monarch Habitat Management Plan for Ellwood Mesa. This should include a timeline for phasing any tree removal restoration, and for reopening the remaining public trails, while respecting habitat management strategies and requirements.
Please see the contact information at the end of this email. And please review the detailed proposal by
The Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs just below.
* * *
THE FOLLOWING IS THE POSITION PAPER SUBMITTED TO GOLETA’S CITY COUNCIL BY
The Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs
Ellwood Monarch Groves at Risk. Support a More Balanced Alternative: Option 6
On Tuesday, September 5th, the City Council will consider options for addressing the current condition of the Ellwood Mesa eucalyptus groves, which have provided the most important overwintering habitat for Monarch butterflies in Southern California.
In the Staff Report, available here: http://www.cityofgoleta.org/home/showdocument?id=15319 (and linked above) City Staff endorses Option 1 – an environmentally reckless proposal to remove over 900 trees in and around Monarch butterfly aggregation sites, even during the months when Monarchs aggregate, with no prior environmental review, and no plan for near-term mitigation of project impacts or habitat restoration in place. Staff’s recommended proposal is not practical, as it conflicts with the Coastal Act and CEQA.
Options identified in the Staff Report are either partial solutions (Option 2), take an unrealistically long amount of time (Option 5), or call for immediate mass removal of vegetation in environmentally sensitive habit areas with unknown and potentially catastrophic consequences to Monarch habitat (Options 1 and 4). Option 3, “Phased Tree Removal,” lacks specifics as to why the southern part of Ellwood North was chosen for the first phase and doesn’t explain how further prioritizing and phasing would proceed. Although it might enhance public access from the parking lot used by tourists, it doesn’t address access for local users.
The Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs, an ad hoc community group composed of local residents, has developed an alternative option not presented in the Staff Report (“Option 6”) that more carefully balances the need for public access with the need to preserve critical Monarch habitat. This approach includes the following elements:
Prioritize and restore selected public access trails:
1. Identify the areas that are currently lacking public access to Ellwood Mesa due to the trail closures, and determine which trails in those areas require the least amount of Monarch habitat disruption to be safely reopened for public access.
2. Assess which trees located along the public trail(s) identified for reopening actually constitute a “fall risk” (described in the Althouse & Meade draft Action Plan as involving multiple factors in addition to tree health, including eucalyptus tree root strength, canopy height and weight load, percent trunk rot, wind, topographic position of the trunk, erosion, and other factors that were not assessed in the report).
3. Identify the impacts to Monarch habitat from the selected interim trail safety measures and develop mitigation measures to replace and /or compensate for these impacts.
4. Submit an Emergency Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application for selective removal of trees found to constitute a “fall risk” that present an imminent danger to public safety along the trail(s) identified for reopening. Include targeted mitigation and restoration actions as a condition to be performed immediately and simultaneously with any tree removal.
Preserve and restore Monarch habitat:
5. Do not begin any large-scale removal of trees in or near the aggregation sites until a restoration plan is prepared and approved. The City’s Monarch biologist Dan Meade on page 25 of the Staff Report, section 1.7 refers to “the restoration plan…to be prepared prior to large scale tree removals.” We agree. Most of the historic Ellwood sites (Sandpiper, West, North, and East) were still functioning as habitat last season and probably will function similarly in the coming season. Tree removal without planned simultaneous and immediate mitigation and restoration is risky and may destroy the habitat value of the sites.
6. Adopt an expedited timeframe for development and approval of the Monarch Habitat Management Plan for Ellwood Mesa that includes a timeline for phasing any tree removal and restoration of the aggregation sites, and a strategy for reopening the remaining public trails in coordination with habitat management strategies and requirements. 3-5 years to develop a plan as projected in the Staff Report is unreasonable given that the City has been working on producing this Plan since 2010. Each month of delay in creating this plan translates to impacts to the Monarch that is literally the symbol of Goleta – this should be among the City’s highest priority projects.
Express your support for Friends of the Ellwood Monarchs and Option 6 by emailing the Mayor and City Council members (see contact information below) and/or attending and speaking at the Council hearing on September 5th.
* * *
CITY OF GOLETA CONTACT INFORMATION:
To send an email to Mayor Perotte, city council members Aceves, Bennett, Kasdin and Richards and City Manager Greene, copy the following and past it into the TO: section of an email.
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, <mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org