Arroyo Burro Estuary

In 2006, PLC was awarded the Arroyo Burro Estuary Restoration job by the City of Santa Barbara.

The job consisted of the removal of 300 feet of 72” concrete culvert that had been installed when Mesa Creek was filled in 1969 and restoration of the site with native plants and interpretive improvements.

The location was at the confluence of Mesa Creek & Arroyo Burro Creek where the estuary meets the creeks. The job required the damming and dewatering of both creeks and the tidally influenced estuary. Both creeks were bypassed with a combination of gravity piping and pumping.

The estuary is home to the tidewater goby, a federally protected species of fish, and many  species of birds and aquatic organisms. Once the dams were installed and previous to dewatering, qualified trappers removed the fish to the downstream side of the dam. Once the dewatering was in place and the fish moved, we were able to perform the excavation and demolition work needed to enlarge the existing estuary and remove the 72” culvert. The new creek channel was protected against erosion with willow planted rock weirs at precise elevations to direct water and create step pools to aerate the water and promote the health of the estuary.

A foot bridge was installed spanning the newly created creek channel which connected to trails leading to the Douglas Preserve and Hendry’s Beach. The whole project was revegitated with native plants, and interpretive signs were installed. If you visited the site today, you would not be able to tell the project ever occurred, as native species have completely filled in and naturalized the site.

In 2008, PLC, along with the other team players involved with the project, received the Santa Barbara Beautiful award in the category of Open Space for the project.