Student birdwatchers and university ecologists alike will soon receive a more in-depth account of the local estuary thanks to a recent allocation of $4,000 to the Devereux Slough Monitoring Program.

The Devereux Slough, a 70-acre natural reserve nestled on West Campus, received the allocation from the Associated Students Coastal Fund. The fund creates a database, which more accurately sorts information regarding the area’s plant and animal populations as well as environmental conditions. The database is accessible to students, researchers and community members.

Previously, the amount was a contentious issue at an October Coastal Fund meeting. Some members had expressed concern that the fund would only benefit researchers and exclude students. In response, the DSMP pledged to conduct public outreach through bimonthly tours of the reserve.

Additionally, UCSB educators who wish to research the Devereux Watershed can use the DSPM database to supplement their academic agendas.

According to a press release, the information is also intended to inform the public about the consequences of development and other issues focusing on responsible watershed usage.

The Devereux School in Santa Barbara and the University of California co-own the slough. Most of the slough is part of the Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve, managed by UCSB. According to the UC Santa Barbara Long Range Development Plan issued in 2006, the Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve is characterized as environmentally sensitive with both ecological and educational value due to its unique array of species.

In 2000, the California Coastal Conservancy issued a wetland profile emphasizing the environmental importance of the slough as a considerable number of species were documented and identified near the estuary. Hydrology, water quality and vegetation factors were also assessed in the profile.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, the reserve was the subject of much controversy with regard to the conservation of wildlife versus the desire to develop over such an expansive area.

UCSB purchased property in the Devereux Watershed in 1994, proposing the development of that region in order to provide student and faculty housing. Due to opposition from the surrounding community and environmental enthusiasts, a committee was created in order to examine the possible ecological consequences associated with the proposed housing plan.

In August 2001, Third District County Supervisor Gail Marshall and UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang announced a proposal for university and county cooperation to permanently protect open space in the Ellwood Mesa and Devereux Slough area. The proposition was intended to guarantee public access to the coastal areas while preserving natural resources.

According to the press release, the funds recently allotted to the Devereux Slough Monitoring Program as well as the establishment of a highly accessible database will perpetuate the role of the reserve in the educational and environmental aspects of the UCSB community.