Coastal Parks and Other Coastal-related Facilities
Andree Clark Bird Refuge
of Santa Barbara City's most beautiful natural refuge features a
29-acre freshwater/brackish lake and its surrounding vegetation.
The Andree Clark Bird Refuge's 42 acres are bordered by the Santa
Barbara Zoological Gardens, Highway 101 and East Cabrillo Boulevard.
The lake drains into the ocean at East Beach.
Historically, this area was a salt marsh, receiving fresh water
from Sycamore Creek.
However, the construction of the railroad in the 1880's resulted
in rerouting Sycamore Creek, thereby isolating the salt marsh. In
the late 1920's, the City restored the area with the sole purpose
of providing a refuge for wild birds.
Today, the refuge is a balance of urban and wildlife interface.
The refuge's duel purpose is to cater to wild birds that migrate
through or reside permanently at the refuge and to provide a enjoyable
setting for people to gain greater insight into our responsibility
to preserve our natural world.
Santa Barbara Zoo -- Sea Lion Exhibit
of the most popular attractions at the Santa Barbara Zoological
Gardens is the sea lion exhibit, where sea lions can be viewed close-up
by visitors. The exhibit's naturalistic setting is healthier for
the sea lions, who are native to the Santa Barbara Channel, is more
pleasing in appearance, and is more educational because of its realism.
The exhibit gives viewers the feeling of experiencing the sea mammals
in the wild. Colorful and informative signs illustrate the natural
history of the channel and the islands, the species of the sea lion,
and how to differentiate between seals and sea lions.
Sea Center Enhancement
you ever held a tunicate or a bryozoans? The touch tank at the Sea
Center on Stearns Wharf contains these strange invertebrates that
look like plants, along with interesting looking crabs, colorful
sea stars, and many other local marine critters. The Center's waterfront
location makes it a perfect window on the marine organisms in our
During a major renovation at the Sea Center in 1990, Santa Barbara
Natural History Museum enclosed a 600 square foot area adjacent
to the Center and installed the large touch tank. Outside seating
for lectures surround the touch tank and a view port allows visitors
to observe sea life under the pier. A shade canopy shelters marine
organisms from exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation and
protects visitors on rainy days. The renovation coincided with the
Center's goal to sponsor exhibits and educational programs that
enhance public awareness of the local marine resources and the importance
of their protection.
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
touch" is the message visitors of the Santa Barbara Maritime
Museum receive when they encounter a museum exhibit. Santa Barbara's
rich maritime history is creatively displayed in Santa Barbara waterfront's
new Maritime Museum. Rare artifacts and priceless memorabilia help
tell the colorful story of Santa Barbara's maritime past: the seafaring
Chumash settlements on the Channel Islands; shore whaling at Goleta
beach; the hapless wreck of seven destroyers on the rocks at Honda;
and the discovery of oil beneath the ocean floor.
An impressive array of exhibits engages the visitor to learn about
ancient seafarers, such as the Chumash, explorers, settlers, pirates,
whalers, and merchant traders. The museum provides for an interactive
learning experience about past and current marine activities in
our local waters, from commercial fishing to military activities.
Walk inside a replica of a submarine and peer through a 38-foot
long periscope, built by the U.S. navy. Interact with oceanographers
and scientists on marine expeditions. Attend a lecture series about
lighthouses and shipwrecks held in the comfortable museum's theater.
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum has something for everyone.
Audubon Goleta Slough Restoration
pampas grass has invaded coastal habitats, displacing native vegetation
and hampering wildlife. Giant chain fern and Stream orchid are just
a couple native species that have been lost from the Goleta Slough
area because of the invasive pampas grass. The plant communities
that inhabit these areas of the slough are integral to healthy functioning
of the coastal ecosystem.
The Santa Barbara Audubon Society, with help from the California
Exotic Pest Plant Council and many volunteers removed this invasive
non-native flora species in the slough area. In addition, the members
planted native species. The restoration project improved the biologically
sensitive habitats for wildlife, the aesthetics for visitors to
the slough, and water quality by allowing the wetland to function
as a natural biofilter.
Phase II -- El Capitan Bikeway and
Many enjoy biking through Santa Barbara County along the Coastal
Trail, which follows the California coast. Many portions of the
Coastal Trail put bicyclists right on the Highway 101 shoulder.
With fatal and near fatal accidents involving bicyclists and automobiles
occurring on these sections, the County Parks Department is working
on getting sections of the Coastal Trail off the highway shoulder.
The department recently completed a 1.2-mile section along this
border-to-border trail that removes the bicyclist from the northbound
highway shoulder. This Class I 1.2-mile section connects with another
section of a Class I bikeway, allowing the bicyclist to peddle for
a total of five miles safely off the highway. Adjacent to this eight-foot
wide concrete bikeway is a six-foot wide natural surface trail for
hikers and horseback riders. This new bikeway/trail heads west from
El Capitan State Park, through coastal sage scrub and riparian habitat.
Ocean Park Improvements
along the coast between Point Arguello and Point Sal, the Santa
Ynez River reaches its end by emptying its freshwater into the Pacific
Ocean. Wind-capped waves crash against the river's current; driftwood
scatters along the sandy beach. This wild and remote environment
is a county park, Ocean Beach Park.
Located 13 miles from the City of Lompoc, Ocean Beach Park's 36
acres is made up of several habitats: salt marsh, freshwater marsh,
dunes, coastal strand, and riparian habitat. Plant species indigenous
to this saltwater freshwater marsh environment include salicornia,
suaeda, distichlis, and frankenia. The endangered Western Snowy
Plover and California Least Tern nest at this popular park.
During summer weekend days, the park is busy with surf fishers
at the ocean shores, birders hiking along the sandy riverbank, and
families at the park's picnic and playground facilities. Although
remote and wild, Ocean Beach Park has many recreational opportunities
for the residents of Lompoc.
Cabrillo High School Aquarium Expansion
you first approach Cabrillo High School in Vandenberg Village, a
curvy-shaped building with a concrete, life-size California elephant
seal in front catches your eye. As soon as you walk through the
doors of the building shaped like ocean swells, you do not feel
like you are in a high school classroom.
From its whale mural walls to its lighthouse theater, the Cabrillo
Aquarium is anything but an ordinary high school classroom. This
aquarium is open to the public and to other school's biology classes.
Some of the high school students designed costumes from scraps of
foam rubber, paint and glue and transformed them into lovable and
huggable creatures of the sea: squid, whale, dolphin, and sea star.
Wearing the costumes, the students teach visiting preschoolers to
sixth graders about the marine environment.
aquarium is dotted with tanks displaying live, colorful fishes.
One aquarium depicts the cold-water reef habitat and the various
species you would find there. Swimming around one aquarium are various
species of shark. Peek in the aquarium that houses the crustacean
habitat and find lobsters and crabs hiding among the kelp and rocks.
The aquariums are actively used as teaching tools for students and
the public to learn about the marine environment.
Burton Mesa Chaparral Garden
on the busy campus of the Allan Hancock Community College, a network
of paths winds you quietly through seven acres of native Maritime
Chaparral plants. Created in the 1970s, this small botanical garden
was developed as an intrepretative program to make the public aware
of this unique flora. The assemblage of plants here is unique to
Santa Barbara County; some of these plants are indigenous to the
Burton Mesa area, such as the Santa Barbara ceanothus, Purissima
manzanita, and Lompoc wallflower.
Members of the Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society
diligently keep the garden's paths cleared and plants' identification
placards updated for the public. A good portion of the paths are
wheel-chair accessible, and students from the college's botany class
use the garden as a science resource. The garden is a peaceful retreat
and a wonderful reflection of the heritage of Burton Mesa Chaparral.