Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Restoration

The vast majority of the Bolsa Chica Conservancy’s (BCC) habitat restoration work is conducted on and for the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (BCER). Spanning over 1,400 acres in size, the BCER is a valuable wetland habitat for many different species of animals and plants. Only about half of that total area is accessible to the public, and it is in these public areas that the Conservancy performs its habitat restoration work. In order to maintain the health and well-being of the local ecosystem, the BCC regularly leads volunteers into the field to accomplish two major goals.

The first and more frequently tackled objective is the removal of invasive plant species from sensitive areas. Invasive species, plant or otherwise, are species that are not native to a particular area but are nonetheless adapted enough to the area to thrive in the living conditions present there. With the native wildlife unaccustomed to utilizing the relatively new non-native species as shelter or food, the invasive species flourishes and crowds out the native species. Left to its own devices, the invasive species will spread over an entire area, diminishing the habitat value of the ecosystem and throwing it off-balance. To combat this problem, the BCC frequently brings volunteers into the field to remove the invasive plant species by hand. While arguably more tedious than other strategies, hand-pulling as a removal method is much more surgical in its use and allows our volunteers to minimize the potential damage to the surrounding habitat, which in turn reduces the number of invasive seedlings that will regrow in the future. Every year, the Conservancy and its volunteers remove tens of thousands of pounds of invasive plant material to mitigate its harmful displacement of native vegetation.

The second objective, and the one many are already familiar with, is trash removal. The BCER is situated at the end of the Santa Ana River watershed and as such is one of the last locations freshwater runoff passes through before reaching the ocean. This unfortunately brings with it large amounts of trash & debris that are swept up by the flow of water, usually brought about by rain, from further inland. While not as prolific or prevalent a problem as invasive species, pollution is no less a threat to the health of wetlands like Bolsa Chica. To that end, the BCC also deploys volunteers to areas that naturally accumulate trash, such as the dune habitat adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway or the marshy shorelines of Bolsa Chica’s various bodies of water. With the help of its volunteers, the BCC removes thousands of pounds of trash & debris from its waterways every year.

If you would like to get involved, you can sign up for an upcoming public volunteer service day by visiting our “Volunteer” page. If you have specific questions regarding our habitat restoration work on the BCER, please feel free to contact us by email at, or call us at (714) 846-1114.

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