Editor, Daily Nexus,
Western snowy plovers have received a boost for species recovery at the Coal Oil Point Reserve with recent Coastal Commission approval of two protective measures: fencing of the primary roost site at the mouth of Devereux Slough, and closure of the Delta Trail, which exits in the roost area. Santa Barbara Audubon supports these measures, and applauds the university and the reserve for protecting snowy plovers while maintaining public access to the popular Sands Beach at the reserve. Snowy plovers are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and Sands Beach was designated as critical habitat for the plovers in 1999.
The Delta Trail is close to the main entrance to Sands Beach, which now serves 90 percent of beachgoers. In January, a cypress tree fell across the Delta Trail, reducing trail use. Most Isla Vista residents access Sands Beach by bike or on foot along the bluffs, and the main entrance is the most direct route to the beach.
A rope-and-post fence will delineate a 1,300-foot long area, to direct people around the roost on the wet sand. This will protect 90 percent of the roost area. The majority of the beach is still available for recreational use. Many seabirds have congregated in the trial protected area – including endangered least terns and snowy plovers. The rate of disturbance of plovers has been reduced.
Santa Barbara Audubon believes these measures will reduce disturbance to snowy plovers and enable them to thrive at Coal Oil Point Reserve, while preserving beach access.