Ellwood Mesa Habitat Project

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February 2018 Update

At the Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 6:00 p.m. City Council meeting, Council received a presentation on the status of the monarch butterfly population counts, hazardous tree removal and trail closure emergency permit implementation, expanded tree survey results and the Butterfly Habitat Management Plan. Read the full staff report here. View the presentation to Council here.

November 2017 Update

On November 29, 2017, twenty-four dead or dying trees on the Ellwood Mesa were removed. Click to view the permit and  application.

October 2017 Update

A presentation to City Council on October 17, 2017, for the Emergency Permit Issuance for the Ellwood Mesa Tree Removal and Trail Closure Project is available here.

Staff is working to mobilize the resources necessary to remove the four trees identified by option 6 for removal before butterfly migration season.  

The City is continuing work on the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan and will provide regular updates on the status and opportunities for the public to provide input on this important project.

September 2017 Update

The Coastal Commission granted an emergency permit for the tree removal work on September 26.

The Goleta City Council held meetings on September 5 and September 7, 2017, to discuss the future of the dead and dying trees on the Ellwood Mesa.  After hours of public testimony and deliberation, the Council supported an option to remove a minimal number of trees around three key trails to provide beach access from several locations on the Mesa.  The tree removal locations and trail map can be found here. These trails are referred to as Trail 6, Trail 18 and Trail 25 in the General Plan.  All other trails remain closed. 

Council supported tree removal in the near-term along these three trails to provide public access as quickly as possible once the immediate threat has been removed.  The current trail closure map can be found here.  As soon as these three trails are reopened, a new map will be posted and distributed.

The Ellwood Main Monarch Aggregation Site (aka Goleta Butterfly Grove) and other aggregation areas on the Ellwood Mesa will remain closed indefinitely.

PROJECT UPDATES (clic aquí para obtener información en español)

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As a result of a tree health assessment performed as part of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan, the City recently learned that a significant number of trees in the Ellwood Mesa are dead or dying. Many of the dead and dying eucalyptus trees in the forest were severely impacted by the drought which increased their vulnerability to pests. In an abundance of caution, and at the advice of the City’s insurer, some trails on the Ellwood Mesa will be temporarily closed due to the potential for falling trees. A trail closure map can be found here. Please observe all signs and closures as they are in place for your protection.The City Council will have to decide how to address the need to remove these trees and how to protect the safety of the healthy trees, the environmentally sensitive habitat and the public.


Other City projects pertaining the Ellwood Mesa:

Butterfly Habitat Management Plan

Ellwood Trails Habitat and Restoration Project



If you have specific questions or comments, click here.