The project to restore the former Ocean Meadows golf course and the adjoining UCSB property received a $3.82 million boost from the state Wildlife Conservation Board at its last quarterly meeting in June. UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration has been leading a successful fund-raising to bring back the topography of the area and let the wetlands surface again, with much of the credit going to its director of ecosystem management, Lisa Stratton.
“I just mailed in a 90-page document,” Stratton said somewhat ruefully on Friday, explaining that a two-page grant application just grows when you add all the supporting documents. “It takes the whole campus to make it happen,” she said of the project and the process, which utilizes the work of students in the university’s environmental programs as well as the advice of a science advisory board, populated with some of the school’s soils, hydrology, and restoration experts.
Four workshops gave students and long-term residents a chance to weigh in on what to do with the 136 acres, now called the North Campus Open Space. They expressed a desire for views of wildlife; access to nature, other trails, and existing roads; and the ability to enjoy recreation there. A large-scale map showing the conceptual design can be found here.
The restoration of the golf course area, built in 1968, involves returning soil scraped away and dumped into the wetlands. The remaining acres had been slated for housing by the university, but the community rallied for open space. Both UCSB and the developer of The Bluffs single-family homes project responded by moving housing on their respective properties away from the wetland areas. Somewhere between $15 million and $20 million is estimated to be needed to complete the open-space project, which has gone through CEQA and filed its permits.