320-Acre Carrizo Marsh Restoration Successfully Completed
Accepted by the 5 Involved Agencies, Turning Over to California State Parks for Long-term Management
In 2010, Pattern Energy began partnering with HELIX Environmental Planning to provide habitat restoration planning services for the approximately 320-acre Carrizo Marsh in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The project is serving as off-site restoration to meet compensatory mitigation requirements for the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility project’s impacts to Peninsular bighorn sheep habitat, waters of the U.S., waters of the State, and sensitive vegetation communities.
HELIX performed the initial removal of 100% of the invasive tamarisk and conducted 5 years of habitat maintenance to eradicate any resprouting invasive plant species. HELIX worked closely with California State Parks, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, CAL FIRE, 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 included removal of invasive tamarisk through mowing, prescribed burning, and herbicide treatment. HELIX also mapped vegetation, conducted a California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) analysis, and assisted with preparation of the burn plan and smoke management plans in addition to creating firebreaks and control lines, fuel zones, and cultural resource buffers throughout the marsh to sequence the burn. HELIX biologists monitored progress of the restoration effort through regular monitoring, use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and focused studies, such as soil samples and ground water measuring devices, to document the transformation of the marsh from what started as over 80 percent invasive tamarisk to its current state that contains a mosaic of native habitats that provide 70 percent native cover.
HELIX completed a five-year maintenance and monitoring program, and the complex and successful restoration effort was officially accepted in June 2021 by the five agencies involved: California State Parks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS). The project is now being turned over to California State Parks who will perform long-term management of the marsh.
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See also: Pattern Energy newsletter article on the Carrizo Marsh restoration project