Rincon Consultants prepared a comprehensive biological resource study of the More Mesa property, which is located in the coastal area of Santa Barbara County. The intent of these studies was to determine the extent of important coastal biological resources and the changes that may have occurred over the years to the site, especially to those areas designated as Environmentally Sensitive Habitat. From a biological basis, the purpose of this study was to determine those areas that should be considered for open space as compared to those that may be suitable for development.
Rincon has developed an approach that involves several different tasks, each of which is vital to the final product. These tasks involve:
- Reviewing past studies and reports
Conducting general field surveys/investigations -
- Floristic Inventory and Mapping of Special-status Plant Species (Vascular Plants)
- Plant Community Level and Grassland Mapping
- Wildlife Habitat Mapping
- General Avian and Raptor Surveys
- Mammal Trapping and Inventory
- Bat Surveys
- Reptile/Amphibian Trapping and Inventory
- Invertebrate Inventory
- Conducting a White-Tailed Kite Investigation
- Conducting a Formal Wetland Delineations and identifying on-site wetlands
- Special-status Species Surveys for listed vernal pool branchiopods, California Red-legged Frog, and Burrowing Owl
- Habitat Sensitivity updates and evaluation
The project included a state-of-the-art analysis of white-tailed kite breeding, roosting, and foraging activities. Biologists conducted focal sampling for individual foraging kites in discrete foraging bouts, which constituted a specific behavior pattern (i.e. foraging: flight, hover, dive, strike, and/or capture) occurring continuously for a discrete time interval. Data collected over the course of the BRS were entered into a GIS database and modeled using geographical analysis tools in ArcGIS Spatial Analyst to interpret spatial data, apply sensitivity rankings, and ultimately quantify sensitivity to determine those areas that meet the definition of ESH, as defined by the California Coastal Commission and the County of Santa Barbara. From this scientific biological basis, those areas that could be considered for open space as compared to those that may be suitable for development based on the least potential for causing impacts to the biological resources of concern were determined. The model results were then used to provide policy/mitigation recommendations to protect sensitive biological resources and inform future decisions regarding the development potential of the property.
Interim reports and the draft report for this study were delivered as established in the schedule with the draft report submitted to the County in June 2009. Initial comments received from California Coastal Commission staff reviewing the Administrative Draft report were very positive, stating it was one of the best reports reviewed and well written (email of June 30, 2009, Dr. Jonna Engel, CCC, to Rincon Consultants).
For more information about this project, please contact us.