The Coal Oil Point Reserve is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. The reserve protects natural habitats to support research, education, outreach, and stewardship.
One of the best remaining examples of a coastal-strand environment in Southern California, the Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve protects a wide variety of coastal and estuarine habitats. Largely undisturbed coastal dunes support a rich assemblage of dune vegetation and rare wildlife, including the dune spider, the globose dune beetle and the threatened Western Snowy Plover.
In the heart of the reserve, Devereux Slough is a seasonally flooded tidal lagoon that dries out in the summer to form salt flats and hypersaline ponds, and channels. A variety of intertidal habitats occur along the sandy beach and the large rocky reef at the point. Thousands of migratory birds visit throughout the year. Coal Oil Point Reserve is part of Audubon's Important Bird Area (IBA) and it is visited daily by birders. Previous studies observed how this estuary changes seasonally. We have a lot more to learn about how changes in Devereux Slough affect the flora and fauna of the reserve.
The grassland and coastal scrub mix have patches of disturbed and undisturbed areas and offer oportunities for experiments in restoration. Previous experiments in this habitat include the influence of fog on plant growth, ecology of the raccoon round worm, and ecology of ticks and lime disease. Vernal pools host a number of rare and endemic species. At low tide, the intertidal and subtidal zones at the reserve provide an opportunity to observe the rich assemblage of invertebrates and algae living on the rock formations. These habitats have been used for long-term monitoring and experimentation as well as for field biology classes.
Located less than 3 miles from the UC Santa Barbara campus, the reserve provides a unique and accessible research and teaching resource. It is used by many university courses for field studies. The reserve offers guided field trips, protected places for research, and training and volunteering in citizen science, restoration and conservation programs. A new Nature Center is now open to better serve the students, researchers, and community.