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Illegal dumping concerns raised after “tons” of rocks and debris mysteriously end up in Mission Creek

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An excavation project and what appears to be illegal dumping in the hills above Mission Canyon is raising concerns.

Residents in the area were alarmed to see boulders stacking up in the creek bed above Tunnel Road, especially with rain in the forecast later this week. 

A Southern California Edison Spokeswoman confirms that SCE has been doing work in the area but was not aware how tons of rocks and debris ended up in Mission Creek.

Hikers along Inspiration Point Trail shared startling footage with us. 

Earthmovers were brought up to carve out the hillside in what appears to be a road-widening project.

Concerned community members say the problem is that crews sheared away all of the vegetation, then bulldozed tons of rocks and boulders into Mission Creek below.

A handful of groups and agencies are now involved, including the Environmental Defense Center. 

“Mission Creek flows right down the heart of Santa Barbara so any material dumped in the creek is going to find its way down the creek into the city and that can pose problems in terms of flooding, in terms of plugging up culverts where the bridges cross our creeks. When you have that kind of material in a creek it's never good for the environment or for the people who live near the creek. It's a real hazard,” said Environmental Analyst & Watershed Program Director Brian Trautwein.

Officials fear that somebody dumped tons of rocks and dirt into the sensitive Mission Creek and it appears that they did not have a permit. 

Residents in the area tell us they were not notified about the project.

“Cleaning up a mess like that would take a significant effort because the material is dumped down in a steep canyon bottom in a very sensitive habitat so any work there to clean it up is going to be difficult,” said Trautwein. 

An SCE Spokeswoman says they have a utility road in the area that gives them access to their transmission towers and they were making repairs to the road due to rain and erosion but their work should not have caused any additional problems.

We asked SCE about the debris and rocks in Mission Creek and were told, 'I don’t have an answer on that.'

Article Topic Follows: Environment & Energy
mission canyon
Mission creek
southern california edison

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