Local environmental groups are mounting a campaign to oppose the construction of new sidewalks in Isla Vista on the grounds that such improvements would be damaging to local wildlife.
“The addition of sidewalks amounts to the destruction of miles of precious gutter space on which I.V. wildlife depends,” said Duane Ferren, executive director of UCSB’s Museum of Systematics and Ecology.
Each night, I.V. gutters fill with diluted Keystone and Miller Light, providing a source of nutrients for local wildlife, which, since the 1960s, has adapted to live off low-grade pizza and domestic beer.
Although gutters provide a ready source of nutrition, wildlife has traditionally received sustenance from additional sources such as urinal and beerinal pools, both of which are ubiquitous in I.V.
All of the known urinal and beerinal pools are located in areas that have had a high college-student population over a period of decades. University communities in which urinal and beerinal pools have been discovered include CSU Chico, CSU Fresno, University of Tennessee and the University of Florida. All of these schools are rumored to be “party schools,” and the latter two appear on CNN’s list of top 20 party schools along with UCSB.
“The party atmosphere at many colleges increases the quantity and quality of urinal and beerinal pools. College students and those pools have coexisted for centuries, with several generations of students both utilizing and appreciating their beauty and values in the landscape,” said Erin Cardinal, a member of the Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center.
Unique life forms have adapted to the college environment wherever urinal and beerinal pools spring up to create the necessary ecosystem. Beer-bellied natty ice frogs spend most of their lives in beerinal pools. Their sole source of food – cheap, stagnant beer – is only available in the wild from beerinal pools.
The Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center is in the process of seeking federal protection for I.V.’s so-called “10-proof wildlife.” Last summer, the California State Government responded by providing Summer Session grants, which encouraged waste-producing I.V. residents to remain in town for the summer months, a critical time for the fragile pools.
Still, with summer 2002 fast approaching, hardships may lie on the horizon for I.V.’s sensitive ecosystem. Some fear that the animals may turn violent, posing a safety risk to local students.
“Starving animals are always more aggressive,” Mr. Ferren said. “And no one is nice when they’re hungover.”