Current Projects & Goals

This Executive Director column communicates to existing and prospective members the projects SBAS is actively working on related to our three main focus areas: education, conservation, and science.  This column will be updated regularly with current projects and goals.  The stated current projects are an overview and not all-inclusive.  Likewise, the goals summarize what each SBAS committee is working towards with occasional opportunities for existing (or potential new) members to become more involved.

Updated: 12-Dec-2019

Current Projects



  • Preparing to teach Meet Your Wild Neighbors (MYWN) in 6 local classrooms.
  • Monthly bird walks, evening programs at SBMNH, and daily EITS outreach.
  • Helping organize Winter Bird Count 4 Kids (1/25/20.)


  • Pilot 3rd grade MYWN curriculum.
  • Assist college students in the establishment of Audubon Campus Club at UCSB.
  • Introduce and welcome 12 new families to SBAS via Winter Bird Count 4 Kids.


  • Researching bird impacts of proposed Lompoc Strauss wind farm.
  • Providing guidance and input on local fire and fuels management that impact birds and their habitat.
  • Protecting area open spaces (Goleta Parks, Facilities and Playgrounds Master Plan.)


  • Advocacy for Strauss to mitigate negative impact on birdlife.
  • Increase legal fund to protect local open spaces, wetlands, bird habitats, and ecosystems for future generations.


  • Water quality and invertebrate research at North Campus Open Space and Coal Oil Point Reserve.
  • Observing White-tailed Kites (10 breeding events, 27 fledglings) & Purple Martins (8 nests, ~16-24 fledglings.)
  • Supporting National Audubon citizen science Christmas Bird Count in Santa Barbara (1/4/20.)


  • College student monitoring of Tree Swallow and Bluebird Nest Box project at Lake Los Carneros.
  • Continue contributing work to archive Santa Barbara County Breeding Bird Study records to inform land management and resource planning.

Please Speak for the Birds!

Update Sunday 11/17

Are you are planning to speak at the hearing?

If so, please arrive at 9:00 a.m. on Nov. 20!  The Strauss FEIR will be first on the hearing agenda. County staff and the project applicant will speak, immediately followed by SBAS. The Commissioners would like all SBAS speakers to present consecutively.

Speaker time allotments are now from one to three minutes (shorter is preferable).

If you prefer to send in your comments, the receipt deadline is no later than noon Monday, Nov. 18.


The Strauss Wind Energy Project (SWEP) is proposed for a large swath of agricultural land south of Lompoc near Miguelito County Park. Santa Barbara County released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) for SWEP on Oct. 31, 2019.

The FSEIR includes many improvements suggested by Audubon; nevertheless we cannot support the project as currently designed, as it doesn’t provide enough bird protections (see our Position Statement document here).   The project will now go before the County Planning Commission to be considered for approval on Nov. 20 and 22.


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Teacher Needed for Meet Your Wild Neighbor!

As the 2019/2020 school year takes off, Santa Barbara Audubon Society is looking for the next elementary-school teacher to teach its Meet Your Wild Neighbor (MYWN) program.

For years, MYWN has brought a curriculum of science education to 1st- and 2nd-grade classrooms here in Santa Barbara.  The program visits classrooms once a week for a five-week series.  Each series includes classroom visits by our live raptors, a neighborhood bird walk, and a field trip to Lake Los Carneros.  The impact of such lessons lasts far beyond the classroom: it’s an opportunity for young people to get outdoors and learn hands-on in nature.

This year will see a strengthening and revitalization of our past curriculum. SBAS is pressing forward to create new partnerships with under-served schools in our community. Now we need a teacher to deliver the program in 1st- and 2nd-grade classrooms.

The ideal candidate is an experienced elementary school teacher, passionate about conservation, and excited to lead experiential lessons in nature. If you are interested, please contact Eyes In the Sky program director Hannah Atkinson at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Help the Birds! Be the Wind Under Their Wings!

Update: 29 July 2019

Below are links to the comment letters (pdf format) that Santa Barbara Audubon Society (SBAS), La Purisima Audubon Society (LPAS) and the Law Office of Marc Chytilo have submitted to the Santa Barbara County Planning Department in response to the Strauss Wind Energy Project Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR).

At this point, the County is reviewing public comments on the DSEIR.  The County will take public comments into consideration as they prepare the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), which will probably be released in the fall of 2019.  If you’d like to help on Audubon’s effort on Strauss, please contact Steve Ferry at ”For or one of our Conservation Committee Co-Chairs, Lori Gaskin or Jessie Altstatt.  And please consider writing a letter and/or testifying on the FEIR.  We will keep SBAS membership informed on Strauss with postings on this website and email notifications.

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Strauss Wind Farm Files

For those of you having problems with accessing the talking points or sample letter… here are some simple text files to download. Do not expect that the text files will look like the nicely formatted letter that Steve ferry submitted. You will have to do some formatting on your own.

Sample Letter

Talking Points

Summary of Conservation Committee Projects

This post describes just a few of the projects that the Conservation Committee is involved in pursuing. They have a fantastic team of volunteers willing to work to further the mission of SBAS directly in our community. If, after reviewing this post, you feel you would like to support the Conservation Committee’s efforts contact them at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

The Conservation and Science Committees meet jointly on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 PM in the MacVeagh House at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The Conservation Committee is one of Santa Barbara Audubon Society’s most active standing committees. The Conservation Committee provides the focus for SBAS’s commitment to protecting birds and bird habitat through projects, strategies, and advocacy which advance the conservation and restoration of ecosystems in support biological diversity.

The Conservation Committee deals with a myriad of issues. A sampling of the projects in which the Committee has been involved over the past several months include the following:

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Spring Coastal Survey of the Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

On May 19, volunteers from Baja California up to Washington state participated in the biannual survey of the Brown Pelican. For Santa Barbara County, there were count teams at Santa Barbara Harbor and Santa Maria River Estuary. The Santa Barbara Harbor team of Tom Beland, Joan Kent, Laurel Luby, Libby Patten, and Cathy Peterson counted 272 pelicans while the Santa Maria effort led by Alex Abela counted 11. The total for Santa Barbara Harbor was the highest seen at this location since these surveys started in 2016 with about 15% of these being immature birds (< 3 years old based on head coloring). The gale force winds at the Santa Maria River were likely the cause for the very low count at this location (typically in the hundreds in the past). There were unofficial reports of a large number of pelicans (> 1000) seen that week near the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, so a team may be added at that location for the fall survey on September 8.

The results for our county have been entered into an online database and are being combined with those from other teams up and down the West Coast.  Many thanks to all of the participants!  More information on this survey can be found at:


Libby Patten is the Santa Barbara County Coordinator for the Brown Pelican Survey.

Conservation Committee Update – Spring 2018

The SBAS Conservation Committee…In Context

By Aaron Kreisberg and Ken Pearlman

“Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.”
(Franklin D. Roosevelt; inscription on FDR Memorial at the National Mall, Washington, DC)

The earliest residents of our region, from the indigenous Chumash to the later-arriving Europeans, implicitly recognized the simple truth embodied centuries later in FDR’s words. As described nearly a quarter of a millennium later in the newly incorporated City of Goleta’s General Plan, it was “the rich soils, verdant vegetation, and harmonious climate of the narrow coastal plain between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean” that had inspired the area’s description as “The Good Land” by the 1769 Portola expedition diarist. This “special environmental setting” was further institutionalized in the General Plan’s vision of Goleta as a community:

  • that treasures open spaces and ecological resources;
  • where the amount and character of growth respects the carrying capacity of the natural environment;
  • that maintains scenic vistas by protecting open spaces and ensuring that its built environment is designed to be sensitive to its setting; and
  • that promotes a sense of place based on a heritage of respect for the natural environment, small town values, and neighborhood cohesiveness.

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If You Plant It, They Will Come

Birds are delightful players on your garden stage and creating a native plant garden is one way you can bring in more species than ever before. Local birds are familiar with native plants, which provide them with the food, cover and shelter they need. Native berries and seeds are the perfect treats to keep these birds coming back for more, and they are further enticed by foods we may not notice, such as species of insects that rely on native plants. Caterpillars in particular are a big prize for parent birds trying to satisfy the hunger of a nest full of begging beaks. In addition to food, native plants provide optimal materials for nests. Birds collect twigs, dead leaves, needles, and webs from shrubs and trees, and strip fibers and bark from milk weed and other natives to make homes for their chicks. Native plants have a symbiotic relationship with birds, who get a beak full of food, then complete the cycle by spreading seeds that sprout into new plants. … Continue Reading

Nature Conservancy Buys the legendary Bixby Ranch

News is out today that the Nature Conservancy has purchased the old Bixby Ranch at Point Conception. I can attest to this location’s beauty as I was able to spend a little time there with my brother when he was a guard for the ranch back sometime around 1970.

You can read the particulars about this acquisition at the following links:

and a little history:

Coronado Seep – Part 3 – City of Goleta’s hearing – Tuesday, July 18

Attend the City of Goleta’s hearing
Tuesday, July 18, at 6PM
in the Goleta City Council Chambers!

At this meeting, the Planning Commission will recommend that the City of Goleta approve Alternative 2b of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Rancho Estates Mobile Home Park Fire Improvements Project, and reject the project as proposed. Your presence at the hearing will show support for the Planning Commission’s recommendation, in which no road will be built next to Devereux Creek.

If you can’t testify in person, please send your comment letter to the City Clerk’s office so it is received before noon on July 17. Comments may be sent via email to email hidden; JavaScript is required or by mail to the attention of the City Council and City Clerk at 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B, Goleta, CA 93117.

Many thanks to those of you who attended the FEIR hearing and/or provided oral or written comments. Your support for birds and their habitat has been heard, loud and clear.

Goleta City Council Chambers are at 130 Cremona Dr., Suite B, Goleta. Enter on the east side of the building. You don’t need to be a resident of the City of Goleta in order to speak, but to do so please pick up a speaker slip near the entrance, fill it out, and give it to a City official inside the Council Chambers.

If you have questions or would like to help the Conservation Committee with this, please send an email to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Coronado Seep – Speak For The Birds – Monday June 26

The City of Goleta has released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Rancho Estates Mobile Home Park Fire Improvements Project. Though the car wash has been removed, the continuing concern in this project is the building of a gravel emergency access road on top of the bank of Devereux Creek, near the Coronado seep, one of the premiere birding hotspots on the South Coast. Devereux Creek in the Ellwood area of Goleta is an important corridor for migratory and breeding birds and is adjacent to the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. The road would remove trees and violate creekside buffer zones mandated by Goleta’s General Plan.

How can you help?

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