State Grant Approved For Upper Devereux Slough Acquisition

May 19, 2011

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today received approval for $3 million from the California Coastal Conservancy to help buy 63 acres at the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast near the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The total includes a $2.5 million grant from the Coastal Conservancy itself, along with another $500,000 which the Coastal Conservancy received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Coastal Wetlands program. The grants mean $4.5 million of the $7 million needed to acquire the property has now been assembled.

"The grant brings us much closer to our goal of protecting the last part of 650 acres of coastal habitat," said Kim Kimbell of Santa Barbara, a member of TPL's California Board. "This land will provide hiking trails for people, along with protecting natural resources."

The 63-acre property encompasses the Upper Devereux Slough, just north of UCSB's Coal Oil Point Reserve. It is the final piece in a large complex of surrounding land which is already protected. The land is one-half mile from the Pacific Ocean and includes part of Devereux Creek, which runs down to Devereux Slough and then into the ocean.

"We are delighted to support protecting this highly scenic and resource-rich property and provide additional access to the California Coastal Trail and nearby beaches and open space," said Sam Schuchat, the Conservancy's Executive Officer. "The Trust for Public Land has brought together the local community, landowner, and government agencies to achieve our common goals."

Historically, Devereux Slough was a wetland. But in 1965, most of the land was filled to create a nine-hole golf course. The acquisition will allow restoration of habitats. Preliminary plans call for restoring about 57 acres of wetlands. As such, acquisition of this property has been identified as a Tier One priority by the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project.

The property is used by several species which are federally protected, including fish such as the tidewater goby and birds like the California least tern and the western snowy plover. Other animals have been sighted in the area in the past two years, including black bears, bobcats and coyotes.

Protection of the Upper Devereux Slough is supported by a number of elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif.; California State Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Calif; California Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Calif; and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes the land.

"UC Santa Barbara is proud of its efforts to acquire and set aside large portions of the Devereux and West Campus bluffs area. This land is being restored and retained in a natural state for public access and the enjoyment of our community, as well as for use in teaching and research" said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "We congratulate The Trust for Public Land on this wonderful grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, and we look forward to opportunities to continue to enhance the environment around the Devereux Slough."

Additional funding has been received from the Santa Barbara County Resources Enhancement Fund, the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program of the California Department of Transportation, and the Goleta Valley Land Trust.

TPL is a national land conservation organization which conserves land for people as parks, wilderness, and natural areas. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres, including almost 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara County. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations and corporations.