One of Santa Barbara’s long-neglected iconic natural landmarks is finally getting some love.
The City of Santa Barbara wants to restore the Andree Clark Bird Refuge to improve the quality of the water, invite more birds and reduce the foul odor that often arises because of the poor circulation of the water.
“This project will improve the water quality, smell, and storm protections of the area while creating usable outdoor recreational space,” said Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon, who teaches geology at Santa Barbara City College. “It really is a benefit for the whole area, and I am looking foward to it.”
The project proposes to improve water quality and restore habitat for aquatic and avian wildlife. Crews plan to replace a broken weir and weir gate, remove 74 nonnative trees, recontour portions of the lagoon shoreline, recontour the mouth of the lagoon on the beach side, next to the volleyball courts, and lower the sand berm at the beach to allow better circulation of the water.
If approved by the California Coastal Commission, construction would begin in the summer, with projected completion by December.
Planned changes at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge include reshaping parts of the edges to make the water more shallow, which will allow more and new birds to make the refuge their home. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
For locals, the bird refuge is as much home as Hendry’s Beach or State Street. The 42-acre lake was created in 1920 and evolved into one of Santa Barbara’s most beautiful scenic paradises. It’s a home to birds, including seagulls, ducks, swans and egrets, turtles and frogs, and an array of vegetation. It’s a lunch sport for many, and a place to shoot photos and paint scenes. It’s also a retreat to escape the hum of traffic on nearby streets.
Anyone who has ever taken a train ride at the Santa Barbara Zoo has viewed the bird refuge from the other side and marveled at its idyllic landscape.
Despite its natural attraction, some enhancement is needed.
The water is supposed to connect to the beach across the street, but the circulation is poor and sometimes nonexistent because of broken infrastructure. For the first time, crews are going to replace the weirs and lower the sand berms to allow water to recirculate. Every now and then, there’s an algae bloom, and the lake oozes a foul rotten egg odor that can last for weeks.
The lagoon currently does not flush into the ocean. Replacing the weirs will help filter and circulate the water.
“There’s been an odor…