UCSB is restoring a 69-acre off- campus parcel of land for use as an open space.
The university purchased the 2.25 miles of coastline between Isla Vista and Santa Barbara’s Sandpiper Golf Course last year to develop faculty housing. It has since decided to per- manently designate the area as open space and refurbish the coast in accordance with the Ellwood-Devereux Coast Open Space and Habitat Management Plan.
The project is meant to ultimately protect the land while fostering its accessibility and recreational use for community members. With the cooperation of a number of planners, contractors and university affiliates, South Parcel will eventually include extensive, strategically placed trails to prevent visitors from treading on sensitive habitat. Similar trail enhancement projects are currently underway at the West Campus Bluff area.
According to Lisa Stratton, Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration natural areas director, the collaborative conservation project has been in the works for years.
“Starting in the early 2000s the various development planners for the Ellwood and West Campus bluffs, all those projects got together and decided to conserve the coastal area and move the development inland,” Stratton said. “That is how we got those 262 acres protected.”
Stratton said the region has experienced extensive environmental devastation over the years.
“The parcel has the marine terminal on it, there was a house on the property,” Stratton said. “Historically it looks like the land was used for agriculture — currently it has the oil pipes and debris on it. It was degraded in 1965 when hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of soil were taken off to create a golf course.”
Dave Harris, CCBER restoration coordi- nator, said construction workers are currently removing residual waste from the region to restore the land back to its natural state.
“Most of what was cleaned up was rem- nant junk from when the area was more heav- ily used by oil — a lot of piping and cement,” Harris said. “Old stuff from the ranching period too — fence line, barbed wire, an old water tank structure, an old house. There is a long history of use of that property, so there was a lot of junk.”
Overall, 17 tons of steel, 22 tons of con- crete and seven tons of other waste were removed. All of the steel and half of the con- crete was recycled.
However, Harris said clearing debris is only half the battle, since workers have to also remove invasive species that have come to thrive in the region. One identifiable villain, Sotuh American pampas grass, has begun to proliferate on the bluffs, creating competition for the plants native to Goleta.
“The next step is doing active habit res- toration, adding more native species and eliminating some of the exotic species is an ongoing thing,” Harris said. “Currently, it is me and one other guy using a small tractor, hand-digging and using all kinds of different winches to try to rip them out. The pampas grass does not have deep roots — if you get the whole root out it usually does not come back.”
While the clean-up process is complete, it will take several years to restore the land to its former state. CCBER will host commu- nity-wide restoration efforts on Saturdays. Students who are interested in volunteering can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.