UCSB recently partnered with Goleta-based nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land to acquire the Ocean Meadows Golf Course near Coal Oil Point, as part of an effort to restore the area to its natural wetland habitat.
The 63 acres of golf course land will be added to Devereux Slough, a 130-acre area of land located on West Campus and overlooking the Santa Barbara Channel that holds a wide range of natural habitats. Devereux Slough was also restored by UCSB and now both areas will act as a collective reserve for migrating birds, fish and invertebrates. The recently acquired area of Ocean Meadows was first purchased by the Trust for Public Land and then donated to UCSB, with the Associated Students Costal Fund contributing funds to the project.
As a nonprofit organization, the Trust does not earn any additional funds from the project, and will continue to raise money for similar conservation efforts.
Environmental studies professor Carla D’Antonio, faculty advisor to the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, is a member of the UCSB faculty committee completing the project. D’Antonio said the project aims to restore the golf course to a healthy, self-sustaining habitat that will protect endangered species and integrate local water cycles.
“[The goal is] to create a functioning, diverse wetland ecosystem with largely native species that is self-sustaining since it requires very little human manipulation once created, maintains successful populations of a wide range of native organisms and is fully integrated into the surrounding landscape,” D’Antonio said in an e-mail.
The A.S. Coastal Fund plans to continue their involvement in the Golf Course Restoration Project, according to Costal Fund Chair Melissa Bills, who said the organization seeks to promote increased community outreach efforts related to the undertaking.
Since the wetlands play a crucial role in maintaining the hydraulic ecosystems of these areas, Bills said the project aligned with the Coastal Fund’s overall mission to protect, preserve and enhance the local coastline.
“By planting native plants and returning some of the native functions of that land, you’re going to be reducing unintended runoff and creating more of a natural environment so you’re sending fewer pollutants into the ocean and into the campus,” Bills said.
Duncan Mellichamp, engineering professor and member of the California Advisory Board for the Trust, said while UCSB and the nonprofit organization have different methods of operation, they have strived to meld their techniques of land restoration into a cohesive, collective effort.
“The University of California is called a fourth branch of government. They basically are constitutionally established, and they have working procedures that they just absolutely have to adhere to,” Mellichamp said. “The Trust for Public Land is a long-term organization that has done lots of these kinds of deals for the public interest, and they’re much more ad hoc.”
D’Antonio said she eagerly anticipates the upcoming restoration effort, but said a good amount of work lies ahead in terms of fundraising and on-the-ground work.
“This is a big project. It isn’t one of those passive restoration projects where you just tweak a few things and over a few years, the plants and animals and soils restore themselves,” D’Antonio said. “This is going to take a lot of careful planning and it will be important to hear many points of view, weigh the advice and opinions of experts, devise plans and models for how the systems might work, and keep an open observant mind and adapt as we go forward.”