Coastal Panel Action Clears Way to Buy Ocean Meadows

The California Coastal Commission today approved subdividing the Upper Devereux Slough (Ocean Meadows) property, which will let The Trust for Public Land acquire 63 acres of the 70-acre property.

"The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have received this final approval from the California Coastal Commission, clearing the way to complete the acquisition of this property, which will trigger a major habitat restoration project and improve access for people to get to the beach," said Alex Size, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the subdivision last August, making the Coastal Commission the last step in the permitting process.

The property, also known as Ocean Meadows, is located at the eastern gateway to the Gaviota Coast near the University of California at Santa Barbara, just north of the school's Coal Oil Point Reserve. It connects a complex of previously protected lands which contains a network of trails, including public access to the beach, along with environmentally sensitive habitat. Devereux Creek runs through the property, down to Devereux Slough and on to the Pacific Ocean, one-half mile away.

The $7 million to buy the land for permanent protection and public use has been approved by a variety of state, local and federal agencies and organizations, including a significant grant from the State Coastal Conservancy, one of the project's key partners.

"This approval brings us much closer to our goal of protecting the last part of 650 acres of coastal habitat," said Duncan Mellichamp of Santa Barbara, a member of The Trust for Public Land's California Advisory Board. "Along with protecting natural resources and opportunities for education and research, this spectacular area will offer more hiking trails for people who love nature."

Once acquired, the site will be restored to its historic wetland status and will provide open space, trails and boardwalks for recreation by the public. However, since today's approval did not include structural development, grading, vegetation or tree removal, plans to restore the property and provide public access will be reviewed later by the CCC.

The property is used by fish and animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, including the tidewater goby, the California least tern and the western snowy plover.

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. Hannah-Beth Jackson; California Assembly Rep. Das Williams; and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes the property.

"UC Santa Barbara is proud of its reputation for environmental stewardship, including our efforts related to the Devereux and West Campus bluffs area. Our work to restore this land to a natural state has benefited the general public as well as our community, and provided numerous teaching and research opportunities," said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "The decision today is the next step in creating coherent and comprehensive management of the entire Devereux Slough that could benefit generations to come."

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than 34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.