Spring News and Events Santa Barbara Creeks Division
Stevens Park Community Stewardship Day

The San Roque Creek Stewardship project is coordinated by the City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and is funded through a grant from Santa Barbara Beautiful and by hotel visitors through Measure B.  


The goal of this project is to build creek stewardship through community restoration and to educate residents about the water quality benefits of using native plants in backyards and gardens.

Friday, March 28th volunteers helped plant about 300 new native plants as a part of the on-going effort to restore native habitat along San Roque Creek.    

For more information, go to www.sbcreeks.com or call Jill Sarick Santos at 805-897-2606.

The New American Lawn

Every year approximately 37 million tons of fertilizer and 67 million pounds of pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides) are applied to American lawns.  Most of the fertilizers and pesticides are applied improperly, in excess and often are washed into storm drains and into creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean.  This can have an enormous impact on aquatic life, including fisheries.   

Ironically, in the case of lawn care, more is not necessarily better.  In fact, the green, flush growth which results from application actually attracts pests and can produce health risks to our pets and children. 


Organic Gardening Magazine online (The Garden Club of America, "The New American Lawn", http://www.gcamerica.org/pamphlets/lawnbrochure.html, March 2008) provides three easy steps to achieve a healthier, new American lawn.

1. Mow high.  Tall blades of grass have more surface area exposed to the sun, enabling them to photosynthesize more sugars and starches for greater root growth. Greater root mass means better accesses to water and nutrients, so plants are more tolerant of drought and can recover more rapidly from dormancy.  Mow often but keep the cut to about 3 to 4 inches in length.   A good rule of thumb is to never cut more than 1/3 of the total length and keep your blades sharp.  If not, you can stress the grass, thereby attracting pests. 


2. Leave the clippings.  As grass clippings decompose, they contribute valuable nitrogen to the soil, almost 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of soil each season or about half of the lawn's annual fertilizer needs.  They also add organic matter and provide a variety of other benefits to the soil and grass.  Many people believe, however, that clippings left on the lawn contribute to thatch - - dead or dying grass parts (such as stems, stolons, crowns, and roots) that form a layer on top of the soil and obstruct moisture and oxygen from reaching plant roots.  But just the opposite is true: Fresh clippings stimulate earthworm activity, which breaks down thatch.


3. Fear no weeds.  You'll leave no room for weeds if you mow your grass often (but not too low) with a sharp blade and grow it in soil that's rich in organic matter and biological activity. Researchers at the University of Maryland confirmed that mowing cool-season turf grasses to 3 inches high works as well as or better than herbicides for suppressing crabgrass.  Sometimes dandelions, common purslane, and other low-growing annual weeds will not survive in a lawn that's cut high.


Additionally you can keep your lawn healthy by reapplying seed in the fall to help thicken sparse patchy areas.  If you like to compost and want grass for the compost mix, just leave the clippings infrequently.   Also by watering appropriately you can prevent the growth of unwanted fungus and weeds. 

Earth Day 2008

Several creek and beach clean-ups are being hosted by local government and non-profit organizations for Saturday, April 19th in honor of Earth Day.  Meet at 10:00 am.  The locations and contacts are:

  • East Beach: Meet at the entrance to Stearn’s Wharf, call 968-3000, sbucc@silcom.com 
  • West Beach: Meet at the entrance to Stearn’s Wharf, call 563-3377, penny@sbck.org  
  • Ledbetter, Miramar or Hendry’s Beach: For more info call 245-9930, ecoerrands@gmail.com   
    E. Storke Wetland: Meet in Storke soccer fields parking lot, call 568-3546, fcrease@cosbpw.net  
  • Mesa Lane area: Meet near the steps to the beach, call 897-2606; ruizsblaw@cox.net   
  • Devereux Creek: Meet where creek crosses Phelps Rd., call 568-3546, fcrease@cosbpw.net   
  • Isla Vista Beach:  Meet at Camino Majorica and Del Playa; call 714-397 2066, coastalfund@gmail.com



Also, don’t forget that the Community Environmental Council will be hosting the 2008 Earth Day Celebration at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Sunday, April 20th from 10:00 to 5:00.  This year’s theme is “reducing your ecological footprint”.   Creeks Division staff will be on-hand to educate residents on what they can do in their backyards.   For more information on how to reduce your footprint, go online to http://www.earthday.net/footprint/. 

Carbon Footprints – Using the online calculators

This year’s theme for Earth Day in Santa Barbara is “Reduce your Ecological Footprint” and it seems you can’t go anywhere these days without someone talking about their footprints.  This entirely new idiom has become a part of our everyday experience.  With rising gas prices, the continued conflict in the Middle East and so much press being given to climate change these days, it’s almost hard not to notice.  So, how do your reduce your footprint?  What’s the difference between a “carbon footprint”, “carbon emissions” and “ecological footprint” and which online calculator is best for determining how to off-set those unavoidable emissions? 


When typed into the common search engine, Google, “carbon footprint” receives about 2,150,000 hits and “eco footprint” receives about 585,000.  Compared to “shop” which receives 1,910,000,000 hits, the idea of “eco-footprints” still has a long way to go.   With that said, however, the online calculator and carbon emissions trading market has exploded in the last few years, since Redefining Progress, national non-profit dedicated to shifting public policy in order to achieve a sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a just society, first came out with the Ecological Footprint calculator in 2002. 


Most of the calculators are basically the same.  They offer a choice between individual, organization and business and some even have a wedding calculator.  Most focus on a few key emissions areas like domestic energy use (habits at home), automotive use (miles per gallon, annual miles traveled), air travel (long trips vs. short trips), consumption (vegetarian, omnivore or carnivore) and waste management (trash and recycling).


It’s important to understand that these are just estimates and that there are shortfalls in each of the calculators that won’t take into account each action, whether it be ecologically beneficial or degrading.   It’s easiest to think that the “footprint” is the sum of all the potential “carbon emissions” in a given “carbon budget”.  Some sites have defined ecological footprint to measure the human demand on natural systems while the carbon footprint measures the human impact on the environment per unit of carbon dioxide output.  The diversity in definitions thereby creates confusion in how to compare country to country impact on the environment, and is further complicated by the newly expanding carbon off-set trading markets.  Some sites estimate US emissions to be about 16 metric tons per person while others have said it was 9.6 global hectares per capita.  In comparison, Italy was estimated to emit about 6 metric tons per person while China was said to emit 1.6 global hectares per capita.  And in general the different sites estimate that the world has overextended its global capacity by anywhere between 20 to 40%.


Carbon off-sets are ways to donate to different projects which usually support renewable energy development, energy efficiency technologies and/or reforestation.  You can purchase certain units of off-sets to make up for your disproportionate footprint.   One way to contribute locally to off-set your carbon emissions may be to participate in locally sponsored clean-ups, recycling programs, and increase your “green space”.   Some of the following sites may help you begin your journey with a smaller footprint. 


-          www.conservation.org – online calculator and resources

-          www.carboncounter.org– online calculator and resources, has good resources for business and organizations even including a calculator for events

-          www.nature.org– online calculator and resources, offers the chance to donate directly to Nature Conservancy projects worldwide

-          www.ecologicalfootprint.org– online calculator and resources

-          www.carbonfund.org– online calculator, resources, directs you to carbon off-set markets and has a neat wedding off-set calculator too


Want to reduce your footprint locally?  Come to the Earth Day festival on April 20th at the Sunken Gardens to learn more about how to reduce your footprint.  The City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division will be on-hand with hands-on educational information with a chance to win eco-friendly products in a 100% recycled cotton shopping tote.  Also, the Creeks Division sponsors several stewardship opportunities annually of which you could use to offset some of your carbon footprint locally.   For more information, contact Creeks Outreach Coordinator at 805-897-2606 or by email at Jsarick@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.           

Creeks Habitat Video Now Airing on City TV

The City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division and City TV announce the airing of a new documentary, “Restoring City Creeks: Habitat, Restoration, and Stewardship”.  The documentary is the third in a series produced by City TV for the Creeks Division to help educate the community about water quality improvement and pollution prevention programs.  The documentary highlights some of the community stewardship and restoration projects sponsored by the City Creeks Division.  Some of the content was provided by Youth CineMedia students as a part of the Creeks Division Youth Enrichment Pilot Project to provide professional design and photography services while helping educate Spanish speaking residents about water quality issues.  Youth CineMedia is a program of Zona Seca, Inc and gives teens aged 13-19 encouragement to embrace new technology and develop communication skills while helping to make real change in their lives and communities. 

The next scheduled airing is March 27 at 5:30 pm.  The full schedule is available on the City TV website at http://www.citytv18.com/.

Steelhead in Mission Creek

During February storms steelhead were sited returning to spawn in Mission Creek.  Several reports reached the Creeks office describing an adult female as large as 28 inches as well as several other males about 12 inches.  “These fish were observed and initially reported by downtown resident Mark Capelli, a Steelhead Trout expert with National Marine Fisheries Service, the lead Federal agency for all things Steelhead. Capelli has been looking for fish in Mission Creek several times per week since the heavy rains earlier in January” writes local activist and former Creek Advisory Committee member David Pritchett in an Edhat article submitted on February 16.   While this news is very exciting, many experts relay the many challenges ahead for the juveniles including warming water temperatures, diminishing water availability and fish passage barriers, like those found at Canon Perdido or near the 101 on-ramp.  Nevertheless, the sightings inspired a renaissance in local efforts to improve habitat for this iconic Southcoast species.  

Creeks Advisory Committee Meetings

Public meetings are held monthly in the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room at 630 Garden Street at 5:30 p.m. Meetings are aired on the City’s Channel 18 television station and as of July 2007 are available on-demand on the Creeks Division website. Meeting agendas are available on the City’s web site by the Friday prior to the meeting. The Creeks Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Citizens Advisory Committee is subject to the Brown Act with meeting agendas and supporting documents posted and distributed to interested parties prior to each meeting.  If you would like to apply for a position on the Creeks Citizens Advisory Committee, click here.

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