At 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department conducted a prescribed burn on Lagoon Island. Working alongside the fire department was the UC Santa Barbara Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. 

Lagoon Island, along with Campus Point, is a coastal mesa sandwiched between the Santa Barbara Channel and the UCSB campus lagoon, located just south of the main campus. Dominated by a number of exotic species such as non-native annual grasses and ice plants, both mesas have become sites of extensive restoration efforts and research projects.

The .36-acre burn was carried out with the aim of suppressing the growth of non-native grasses — such as rip-gut brome grass (Bromus diandrus) — to benefit native plants such as bluff scrub, according to a press release by the city of Goleta. 

This prescribed burn is one component of an ongoing restoration effort. Controlled burns are tools being used to restore the coastal sage scrub and oak woodland habitats that had existed in abundance across much of what later became the UCSB campus. First employed in 2006, the burns curb the growth of non-native grasses through intense heat, which reduces the “viability of the non-native seed bank,” according to the press release.

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Sean Crommelin
Sean Crommelin is the Science and Tech Editor for the Daily Nexus. He can be reached at