A trodden section of the California Coastal Trail that runs along UCSB’s West Campus Bluffs will be replaced with a more stable and usable pathway by March 9.
Construction began last week on the 2,620-foot segment between Isla Vista and Coal Oil Point Reserve. The project was made possible by grants from Coastal Conservancy and two UCSB student organizations – the Coastal Fund and BIKES. “The existing path was well beyond its useful life and worn down after many years of use,” said Ray Aronson of UCSB’s Campus Design and Construction Services in a prepared statement.
The West Campus Bluff Trail is a popular route for walkers, joggers, and bikers alike. Overuse and drainage problems on the path caused severe erosion and pedestrians began to clear out alternative paths in the area to avoid ruts and rough patches. This network of informal paths eased the progression of erosion along the stretch undergoing restoration, but on the whole, it increases the total erosion on the bluffs and encroaches on the surrounding habitats.
During construction of the eight-foot-wide decomposed granite trail a temporary path will provide coastal access. Through summer, UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration will close and re-vegetate the alternative paths with local plants like purple needlegrass and coast goldenbush using $32,000 in grants from the Coastal Fund.
UCSB’s Coastal Fund and BIKES donated a total of $150,000 toward planning and implementing the project, and the Coastal Conservancy granted $175,000 towards construction in 2007. It has been seven years since UCSB first recommended restoration along the trail in the University’s Long Range Development Plan Amendment.
UCSB students are taxed $5.25 quarterly to contribute to the Coastal Fund, a student run organization that works to conserve UCSB’s coastlines. According to its website, the Coastal Fund has allocated nearly $1,500,000 to over 350 local projects or programs since 1999.