Evaluation of the Ecological Restoration Projects at The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Lagoon
The University of California, Santa Barbara’s lagoon has undergone several ecological restoration projects over the past two decades. Some efforts have proven to be beneficial, while others still need improvement. This paper addresses and evaluates five different locations around the lagoon, the various restoration projects at the sites, and what more could be done at each habitat in order to assess the ecological restoration efforts in the UCSB Campus Lagoon area. The sites addressed are the San Nicolas degraded ...view middle of the document...
Although the objectives vary, a common goal all restoration projects are to improve the relationship and interactions between human society and the environment.
The University of California at Santa Barbara’s Campus Lagoon restoration project is at approximately 34.4086 degrees North and 119.8481 degrees West (Google maps, 2014). In about 94 acres, it is “surrounded on the North, East and West by the main campus of UCSB and is bordered on the South by the Pacific Ocean” (CCBER UCSB Campus Lagoon Overview, 2013).
Figure 1: Campus Lagoon Kip Evans Arial Photography (Kip, 2013)
Figure 2: CCBER Management Areas, UCSB Campus, UCSB Lagoon Overview (CCBER Campus Lagoon Overview, 2013)
Much of the Campus Lagoon land was degraded due to military and agricultural activities, which peaked around 1970. Because of its current “ecologically sensitive” status (CCBER UCSB Campus Lagoon Overview, 2013), UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological restoration was able to take it on as a restoration and water quality management project.
Santa Barbara is considered to have a Mediterranean climate, which is characterized as a temperate and dry tropical climate consisting of rainy winters and dry summers (Groves, 1991). Much of Santa Barbara’s coastal wetlands, including the Campus Lagoon, are vernal, or seasonal wetlands. Thus, weather plays an important role in the Campus Lagoon maintenance and management. The temperate weather has allowed for a diverse multitude of habitats to thrive at UCSB’s Campus Lagoon, including salt marshes, coastal dunes, coast live oak woodlands, vernal marshes and coastal sage shrubs. Much of the lagoons floor consists of layers of loose and incompact sediment composed of partially decomposed matter (CCBER UCSB Lagoon Overview 2013). Archeologists estimate that mankind has inhabited this area for around 9,000 years, resulting in severe and arguably irreversible land modifications.
To gain an understanding of the Campus Lagoon restoration project, this paper will focus on smaller sites within this area. These sites include the San Nicolas degraded wetlands, Campus Point, the coastal sage scrub, Manzanita Village and the bioswales. Site descriptions, project goals and up to date progress will be discussed along with possible strategies for further restoration.
2.1; San Nicolas Degraded Wetland Description:
On the eastern side of the lagoon, near San Nicolas Dormitory and Parking Lot 5, the San Nicolas Wetland is a half-acre restoration site that collects unfiltered, nutrient rich runoff from the 50 acre main campus watershed (True, 2012). The excess nutrients carried in this urban runoff supported dense algae blooms, which limited the wetlands oxygen level. A student-lead study concluded that the wetland is suffering from eutrophication based off the thick mud of decomposed organic matter found on the bottom of the wetland, and the low diversity of decomposers and bottom dwelling organisms. Due to the wetlands lack...