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Carrizo Marsh Habitat Restoration

105_CarrizoMarshBurnHELIX Environmental Planning biologists and Construction Group staff are providing habitat restoration services for the approximately 318-acre Carrizo Marsh in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The project is serving as off-site mitigation to meet compensatory mitigation requirements for the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility project’s impacts to Peninsular bighorn sheep essential habitat, waters of the U.S., waters of the State, and sensitive vegetation communities. HELIX worked closely with staff from California State Parks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and wildlife agencies to develop a habitat restoration plan for the marsh, which is one of the most regionally significant water bodies in the Anza Borrego Desert. HELIX’s implementation of the plan includes removal of invasive tamarisk through mowing, prescribed burning, and treating with herbicide. In addition to the habitat restoration plan, HELIX mapped vegetation, conducted a California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) analysis, assisted with preparation of the burn plan and smoke management plans, coordinated with the participating agencies, and implemented the project. HELIX created firebreaks and control lines, fuel zones, and cultural resource buffers throughout the marsh to sequence the burn into three separate plots. HELIX biologists have monitored the progress of the restoration effort, using soil samples and ground water measuring devices to record data as the marsh transforms from over 80 percent tamarisk thicket cover to a native species habitat. As of winter 2015, HELIX has performed initial removal of over 90% of the tamarisk throughout Carrizo Marsh. A maintenance period of approximately 5-years will be performed to eradicate remaining tamarisk from the area. Following the 5-year maintenance period, California State Parks will perform long-term management of the marsh.