Biological Resource Inventories & Mapping

East Cat Canyon Oil Field Redevelopment Project, Santa Barbara County, California

East Cat Canyon Oil Field Redevelopment Project, Santa Barbara County, California
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Project Name: East Cat Canyon Oil Field Redevelopment Project, Santa Barbara County, California
Services: Biological Studies/Reporting
Client: Aera Energy LLC

Since 2011, Padre has been providing environmental consulting and permitting services to Aera Energy, LLC for a proposed oil and gas redevelopment project (Project) located on approximately 2,000-acres within East Cat Canyon, Santa Barbara County, California (Project Site). The Project will re-establish oil production in an existing oil field by drilling and operating new wells, and building and operating new infrastructure and facilities to support enhanced oil recovery. Padre has conducted numerous field surveys and desktop evaluations to document the habitat, wildlife, and botanical resources found within the proposed Project Site and surrounding region. Focused field surveys included wetland delineations; vegetation assessments and mapping; an oak tree inventory; and surveys for least Bell’s vireo, vernal pool fairy shrimp, and California tiger salamander (CTS).

Coast live oak woodland is particularly important for its ability to support a wide variety of wildlife species due to its high value as foraging habitat and protective cover. Padre’s oak tree inventory collected information that is being used by Project engineers to avoid and minimize disturbance to the oak woodland habitat to the greatest extent feasible. Within the proposed Project footprint, Padre documented all trees that met the Project threshold limits for inches in diameter at breast height (DBH), using a calibrated DBH measuring tape. Individual oak tree locations were documented with hand-held global positioning system (GPS) data collection units, the location, size, and species were recorded on data sheets, and each tree was tagged with a specific number corresponding to the data entry. As part of the permitting process, Padre has developed oak tree protection and replacement plans that will provide guidance on how to protect oaks trees during Project activities, and methods on creating and enhancing oak woodland as part of mitigation for tree removals.

The Project Site, and surrounding area, also contain various ponds that were designated as potential CTS breeding pools by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2010. Upland and aquatic CTS surveys were conducted at the proposed Project Site by Storrer Environmental Services (under contract to Padre) with the assistance of Padre biologists, to determine if CTS were utilizing migratory paths throughout the Project Site and using the on-site pools for breeding. Upland drift fence surveys were completed for two wet seasons (2014/2015 and 2015/2016) and aquatic surveys were completed for four years (2014-2017). As part of the environmental permitting and planning services provided for the proposed Project, Padre has been collaborating with the USFWS to develop software that assesses habitat value for areas surrounding potential CTS breeding pools for habitat mitigation purposes. The goal of developing the software is to create a model that can be used to determine CTS habitat value for the Project Site, as well as other projects throughout the State of California that may require CTS habitat mitigation.