UCSB’s beaches may become cleaner and its waters a little less mysterious thanks to the work of Shoreline Preservation Fund.

The Shoreline Preservation Fund began its third year with an agenda including funding projects for water quality testing, protecting snowy plovers and continuing its Beachsweep program.

Organizations, students and members of the community can create proposals at the beginning of each quarter to be reviewed by SPF’s seven-member student board and receive funds for projects that will benefit the shoreline.

“In the absolute sense, [the shoreline] is pretty bad. In the relative sense, there seems to be a lot more concern about the shoreline, which is good,” said John LaBonte, chair and graduate representative of SPF.

Last year SPF allotted $1,500 to the Blue Water Task Force, a committee within the Surfrider Foundation’s Isla Vista chapter that is building a baseline of water quality data sites in four locations around I.V. where the waste-water runoff goes into the ocean.

“There are other groups on campus doing water testing, but none are specifically working to publicize their results like we are,” said Mike Sherwood, project coordinator of the Blue Water Task Force. “We tested at least a couple times a week in the Winter, Spring and Summer Quarters with a group of 15 people. We want to set up our own lab on campus with funding from the Shoreline Preservation Fund.”

One project designed to reduce habitat destruction is the SPF-sponsored Beachsweep. The annual event encourages campus organizations to clean local beaches in return for a $250 check.

“There is so much trash on the beach – it’s unbelievable,” SPF grant manager Scott Bull said. “You don’t necessarily realize how much until you actually look around and you start picking it up. You can easily fill a bag in a short amount of time.”

Most of the repair and preservation of the local coastline comes from student organizations; university students and members of the community are also the main polluters of the beach habitats, Bull said.

“UCSB’s close proximity to the coast and large student population has a big impact on the shoreline. We have such a treasure [in living] so close to the coast and SPF is looking to help maintain and protect it,” Bull said. “People are walking through plover nests and sensitive habitats and dropping trash where they please, unaware their actions affect the natural ecosystem. What you throw on the beach ends up in the beach.”

SPF was established in the spring of 1999 when students voted strongly in favor of a $3 lock-in fee per quarter. The group’s mission is to “preserve, protect and restore the shoreline associated with UCSB through preservation, education, open access, research and restoration.” Funds in the last three quarters have totaled over $170,000 for projects that vary from weed management to sea otter recovery.

“The work SPF is funding had to be initiated by the students because the university isn’t doing it,” Bull said.