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Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund

Santa Barbara County has awarded 297 grants for a total of approximately $22.4 million from its Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund (CREF). The County established CREF in 1987 to help mitigate significant impacts of offshore oil and gas development to coastal aesthetics, coastal recreation, coastal tourism, and environmentally sensitive coastal resources. In effect, the County awards grants from CREF to enhance these specific coastal resources pursuant to the Board-approved CREF Guidelines. A description of these and other grants can be found in the annual CREF Status Report.

  • A little less than half of these mitigation funds have been used to acquire coastal properties or conservation easements. For example, CREF helped purchase key bluff-top properties, such as the Carpinteria Bluffs, the Douglas property in the city of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Shores in Ellwood, and Point Sal near Guadalupe. It also helped to acquire properties that protect environmentally sensitive coastal habitats, such as Burton Mesa chaparral near Lompoc, Monarch butterfly foraging habitat in Ellwood, and the Carpinteria Salt Marsh.
  • The second largest amount of CREF funds have been devoted to developing or improving coastal parks and other coastal-related facilities such as the Cabrillo Aquarium near Lompoc, the Dunes Center in Guadalupe, and the Watershed Resource Center at Arroyo Burro Beach.
  • A small portion of CREF has funded Planning & Research, which mainly includes preparing master plans for coastal properties.  

Types of CREF Projects

  • A small portion of CREF has funded educational projects. Typically a small CREF grant of less than $25,000, this type of project can have a big impact. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's Los Marineros curriculum, Dunes Center's many exhibits, and La Purisima Audubon Society's Snowy Plover video educate students and adults about the fragile marine environment and the ways to protect it.

Annual cycle

On May 5, 2015, the Board of Supervisors awarded seven grants in the 2015 CREF cycle for a total amount of $700,919. If you are interested in knowing which projects received a CREF grant or would like to be on the CREF mailing list, please contact Kathy Pfeifer, (805) 568-2507. Staff will be commencing the 2016 CREF cycle in fall of this year

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