Wildfire Safety and Healthy Habitats
A common practice in vegetation within 100-170 feet of homes or the ‘fuel modification zone’ is planting non-native, often highly invasive succulents or mowing weedy species to comply with standards for reduced fire risk. However, these practices result in areas of low habitat value that can facilitate the spread of invasive plants to other sections of the natural area This project was designed to demonstrate a fuel modification zone that reduces fire risk while also providing wildlife habitat. By planting Coastal Prickly Pear (Opuntia littoralis) and Coastal Cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) we can create nesting habitat for the Coastal Cactus Wren, a species of special concern and a target for coastal sage scrub habitat conservation. With the help of dedicated staff, community volunteers, and student interns we were able to plant over 1600 cactus pads this winter!
Download the Wildfire Safety and Healthy Habitats Demonstration Project poster (pdf file)
Restoring Habitat for the Coastal Cactus Wren
The coastal Cactus Wren is a California State Species of Special Concern due to habitat loss. Two restoration projects were conducted at the UCI Ecological Preserve in collaboration with the Natural Communities Coalition to support Wren populations at the Preserve and in surrounding natural areas. One project focused on facilitating dispersal among isolated populations by restoring habitat between them. Cactus Wrens utilize larger clumps and taller cactus interspersed throughout coastal sage scrub plant communities. Restoration in this project entailed transplanting cactus pads and whole cactus plants salvaged from areas undergoing development into existing scrub habitat. The other restoration project focused on both planting cactus and on restoring areas dominated by non-native weeds with a diverse plant assemblage from the coastal sage scrub community. This enhances both nesting and foraging habitat for the wrens. Efforts continue to maintain the quality of this habitat and to monitor the population status of the coastal Cactus Wren on the UCI Ecological Preserve.
Download the 2016 PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORT YEAR 4
MEASURE M CACTUS SCRUB RESTORATION FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA IRVINE ECOLOGICAL PRESERVE
Download the 2016 PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORT YEAR 5 – FINAL
ENVIRONMENTAL ENHANCEMENT AND MITIGATION PROGRAM CACTUS WREN HABITAT LINKAGE ENHANCEMENT AND RESTORATION PROJECT