The North Campus Open Space is a restoration project headed by The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). This project intends to restore what is now the former Ocean Meadows golf course to its natural state as the upper slough. UCSB is already working to restore the Devereux Slough, and the connecting creek will be the primary focus of the NCOS project. Eventually, the space will provide the local community of Isla Vista and Goleta with uninterrupted access to over two miles of coastal space linking UCSB's South Parcel, Coal Oil Point Reserve and Ellwood Mesa.
The Devereux Slough used to connect to the Goleta Slough located where now stands the Santa Barbara Airport. Goleta Slough was once the site of one of the largest Chumash settlements dating back about eight-thousand years ago. When the Spanish and other Europeans came to the area they introduced cattle ranching to the area. Cattle require cleared spaces and this clearing loosened soils surrounding the slough and when storms hit, over time the slough was filled in. Much later, WWII was upon us and the area was overhauled into a military airbase. There is a small berm which is the only land remaining of the island of Mescalitan - the Chumash settlement. Today, that land is a up-scale airport and the last remnants of that wetland space is the Devereux Slough. In 1967 UCSB acquired the area which had been heavily polluted by marine oil fields and began restoration. The next step was acquiring the upper slough which had changed hands often since 1871 and was turned into a golf course in the 1960's. The trust for public land purchased the golf course for 7 million and gifted it to UCSB to aid in the full restoration of the natural coastal land.
The NCOS Project
UCSB and partners will be focused on restoring the area to it's prior natural state. They will be removing any reminders of the golf course, excavating and removing tons of the soil that had been brought in and removing all the man-made water ways that were once used to irrigate and divert water from the course. The environmentalists working with the project will be restoring native plants, soils, and hopefully creating a beautiful environment that can be enjoyed by the community and animal life. To aid in public use and appreciation, trails and small bridges will be added around the entire Ellwood area connecting all of the publicly reserved lands. This project will also facilitate research, academics, and community outreach programs like volunteer work.
In addition, to the land, 284 species of birds can be found in the area and this restoration is expected to encourage more of these birds to call it home. Devereux slough and the surrounding areas are considered some of the most incredible bird-watching spaces in California. Some examples of these bird include the Snowy Plover, Great Blue Heron, Great Egrets, and Buffleheads.
Funding and Partners.
- California Natural Resources Agency
- the Department of Water Resources
- the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for Greenhouse Gas Sequestration using Cap and Trade funds.
- The Trust for Public Land purchased 64 acres of the now-closed Goleta course with $7 million of grant funding from several federal, state, and local agencies. The organization subsequently gifted the property to The Regents of the University of California, which will serve as the long-term steward of the open space.
- UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) Is leading the research for environmental impacts, habitat reconstruction and information on local plants and soils.
"The NCOS Restoration Project is an excellent example of many water resources and fish and wildlife agencies working together with local entities and stakeholders to make use of generously donated property to restore the land to the historical and natural functions that once thrived there. Wetlands were once seen as useless swamps to be drained and filled. Now they’re recognized as essential habitats for countless fish, birds, and mammals while also serving to filter storm water and reduce the adverse effects of flood flows. The Department of Water Resources’ partnership with UCSB and others to help fund this project is consistent with the Department’s mission to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environments.” – Mark A. Holderman, Principal Water Resources Engineer, CA Department of Water Resources.
(*responses and quotes provided by recording of public meetings, speakers will remain anonymous.)
Many locals of Goleta are concerned about the construction obstructing their access to the coast and to the University Properties. Although these complaints are temporary issues and are contested by those who say "this project is primarily a restoration project" - as opposed to being a project to provide recreational space. The community is also concerned about Venoco's impact on the area when removing their retired oil structures. This company has already stated they will be removing their presence from the area in the next few years using the emergency access road along the side of the NCOS. One woman stated that she has lived in that area over forty years and loves the project, suggesting that the area receive a new name, others suggesting one of it's Chumash roots. Overall, this project seems to be an incredible restoration of invaluable land and the public hopes to see the fruits of years of lobbying for it's preservation.
UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) website. https://www.ccber.ucsb.edu/ncos-news
North Campus Open Space Website. http://www.openspace.vcadmin.ucsb.edu/overview
Mark Holderman, Principal Water Resources Engineer, CA Department of Water Resources.
*Recording of public forum of local community members and project representatives.