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Ecological restoration efforts begin at former Goleta golf course

University of California at Santa Barbara and U.S. Fish and Wildlife representatives gathered Wednesday to mark a major step toward restoring a former golf course back to its ecological glory.

Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony at the former Ocean Meadows Golf Course started the process of removing soil used to fill the site 50 years ago.

The 136 acre parcel now has a new name and a new purpose: The North Campus Open Space and will ultimately open to the public with trails and bridges meandering across the coastal habitat and restored wetlands on the upper Devereux Slough.

“In the state of California we’ve lost 90% of our wetlands,” said Steve Henry, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Field Supervisor. “That’s led to increased pollution in the ocean and coastal areas where people like to recreate.”

USFWS helped provide $3.5 million dollars to acquire the property and help in the design and planning process and the USFWS Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Program granted the State of California $500,000 toward the acquisition of the property. UCSB officials say to date, the university has secured grants totaling more than $15 million dollars to help restore the estuarine and adjacent mesa ecosystem.

“We can integrate studies about fish, hydrology, wildlife and birds,” said Lisa Stratton, Director of Ecosystem Management for the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CBER). “We can also integrate in with the native peoples and restore the landscape as they might’ve seen it back in the 1500’s or so, or before Western people came.”

The area is home to two endangered species: the tidewater goby and snowy plover.

“This project is opening doors for new students to be involved in the environment, to be involved with the restoration of a project in bringing this wetland back to life,” Henry said.

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