Goleta Magazine 2018 - 36

UC Santa Barbara

A Place for Discovery
UC Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve offers
gorgeous views and a variety of ecological wonders
A T W O - H O U R W A L K A B O U T across Coal Oil
Point Reserve will net you cameos aplenty by some of
nature's most beloved stars from vernal pools to wildflower
fields, from lizards to lichens to a certain barrel-chested
shorebird that has made quite a name for itself.  And of
course, the showstopper-that beautiful beach.

Sitting four miles west of UCSB proper, Coal Oil Point is in
many ways an extension of the campus. Few reserves are
so accessible to so many, with Sands Beach and the Pond
Trail within its boundaries. And that's part of what makes it
unique-and especially valuable for research, teaching and
stewardship-according to Sandoval.

"This breathtaking view harbors so much to be discovered,"
said Cristina Sandoval, director of the reserve, which is
among seven protected sites managed by the  UC Santa
Barbara Natural Reserve System. "Even though we know a
lot, there is even more that we don't. This is a place for discovery, and there is so much to be understood."

"Coal Oil Point is particularly important because it is a wildurban interface," she said. "Here we can study the wild and
how humans may alter it. For example, our studies on the
impact of human disturbance on nesting snowy plovers
showed that the plovers would not nest in areas where
people would walk."

Now, thanks to the recently opened Nature Center at Coal
Oil Point, the community has a new means of learning about
the reserve and its many ecological wonders. With a lab,
classroom, meeting rooms and offices, the facility also features several educational exhibits. Currently more than ten
exhibits are on display, all dedicated to the reserve's habitats,
endangered species, natural history and research.

The reserve made history by becoming the first site to lose
its breeding population entirely then recover it through conservation efforts. Coal Oil Point now hosts up to 400 plovers
each winter-the birds' largest such seasonal aggregation in
the U.S.-and averages 30 fledged chicks per year. The 2017
breeding year saw a healthy increase, with 53 chicks reaching fledging age.

"With tours, lectures and now the Nature Center, our goal is
to make this information accessible to anyone interested,"
Sandoval said.  "Knowledge is the most powerful tool for
conservation, for informing management decisions and to
warm the hearts of people into caring for nature."

B Y S H E L LY L E A C H M A N
U C S A N TA B A R B A R A O F F I C E O F P U B L I C A F F A I R S & CO M M U N I C AT I O N S

36

GOLETA MAGAZINE

GoletaChamber.com


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Goleta Magazine 2018

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