In the 1960s , the northern extent of Devereux Slough was filled for the construction of the Ocean Meadows Golf Course, removing roughly half of the slough’s estuarine habitat. The area is now being restored to its natural state.
Coastal estuarine wetland habitats have become extremely rare along the California coast. This major habitat and estuarine restoration project entails the removal of nearly 350,000 cubic yards of earth fill from the former golf course to restore an intermittently tidal estuary. It also involves the local beneficial reuse of this material to restore adjacent native upland coastal bluff habitats, including native grassland, coastal sage scrub, seasonal wetlands, and vernal pools. The restored estuarine habitat consists primarily of estuarine aquatic, mud flat, and marsh habitats, with upland, freshwater fluvial and wetland transitional ecotones.
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, led the North Campus Open Space Restoration Project in collaboration with the State Coastal Conservancy and multiple local, state, and federal agencies.
ESA oversaw the design effort including field data collection, scientific analyses, alternatives development, regulatory and environmental compliance support, and preparation of final design and construction documents for the habitat restoration and public access improvements. The ESA team included several specialists delivering layout and structural design of public access elements, geotechnical engineering, geohydrology, surveying, and soils analysis. The design accommodates sea-level rise through 2100 for the high scenario consistent with California’s 2013 guidance. A range of public access trails and interpretive elements will provide passive recreation and educational benefits.
Though somewhat constrained by surrounding North Campus development, the project is close to a true restoration of the historic slough. It extends 2.25 miles along the Ellwood-Devereux coast and connects several existing preserved properties including the City of Goleta’s Sperling Preserve at Ellwood Mesa and UCSB’s South Parcel and Coal Oil Point Reserve.
Constructed in 2018, the site will ultimately feature 136 acres of restored and preserved coastal open space featuring trails and boardwalks for public access and passive recreation. It will also be used for teaching, research, and community outreach. Restoration and preservation of wetlands and other habitat along Devereux Creek will be a primary focus for the property.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than half of America’s historic wetlands have been lost or disturbed as a result of human intervention. In San Francisco Bay, this number is even higher, at more than 90 percent.