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Coastal Parks and Other Coastal-related Facilities

Andree Clark Bird Refuge

Bird RefugeOne 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

Santa Barbara Zoo Sea Lion ExhibitOne 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

Sea CenterHave 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 local waters.

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

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum"Please 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

Goleta SloughThe 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 Trail

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

Ocean ParkMidway 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

Cabrillo High School AquariumWhen 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.

Cabrillo High School Aquarium ExhibitThe 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

Burton MesaHidden 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.

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