The path to Sands Beach should be a little less treacherous by next school year.
A committee of university administrators met this week to begin plans for the restoration of the trail along West Campus Bluff. For the past 10 months Shoreline Preservation Fund has been working with the university to finalize plans to widen and maintain the path. They say the current series of paths are unsafe and detrimental to the surrounding environment.
“Since the people are unable to travel on the path during the rainy season because of the potholes, the environment is very poor,” Shoreline Preservation Fund Vice-Chair and Undergraduate Representative Maggie Stack said. “We hope that by creating a more stable and wider pathway, it will help to create better travel, safety and an environment for the students.”
Plans for the path include consolidating the series of winding dirt paths from Del Playa Drive to Coal Oil Point Reserve and Sands Beach into one straight path to the beach, widening it and making it level. They are also thinking about planting grass on the sides of the path in the open area between Isla Vista and the reserve, Shoreline Preservation Fund Grants Manager Scott Bull said.
“With our project, we hope to provide a wide enough path where two bikers can pass each other without having to go into the environmental area,” Stack said.
Shoreline Preservation Fund will take care of the initial planning stages and will then turn the project over to the Physical Facilities dept., which will hire the contractors and oversee the budget and planning of the project.
The project is expected to cost between $17,000 and $75,000 depending on how extensive the improvements will be. Shoreline Preservation Fund has raised about $50,000 for the project so far.
“With the money we raise, we are hoping that the university will contribute to what we are unable to pay,” Stack said.
The new trail will only last a few years, as both Shoreline Preservation Fund and the university hope to provide a more permanent path five or 10 years down the road. Work is expected to begin in early summer and should be completed before students return in September.
“We want to work on the project when there is the least amount of people here, and summer is obviously the best time,” Bull said.
The university committee met this week to discuss the project. The committee is comprised of several campus administrators including Physical Facilities Project Manager Celeste Manolas, Museum of Systematic Ecology of Marine Biology Executive Director Wayne Ferren, Physical Facilities Associate Director Paul Gawronik and Jim Proctor of the Geology Dept.
“We walked around, looking for possible construction sites and development that the project would include,” Manolas said.
The project did not start at the administrative level, though. Ten months ago, Bull began looking into the possibility of widening and restoring the 20-year-old trail because of problems associated with erosion and habitat destruction caused by people making shortcuts through the open space between Isla Vista and the Coal Oil Point Reserve.
“In the past 20 years, it has suffered all kinds of degradation,” Bull said.
Shoreline Preservation Fund approached Associated Students Legislative Council and Chancellor Henry Yang in hopes of garnering support. The proposal was favorably met – Leg Council passed a position paper supporting the project and Yang created the committee.
“We are thrilled that the university is helping us, and is so enthusiastic about it,” Bull said. “We hope this new path will help the safety of students, and provide easier pathway to travel for any surfers, students or teachers.”