Below is a list of known major natural or political events that contributed to the what the reserve is today.

COPR history

1861-1862. A huge rain that lasted 5 weeks flooded many places, killed cattle, silted Goleta Slough, and filled creeks with debris.  It is not known what happened to Devereux Slough.  This was the event that transformed several flooded estuaries into salt marshes.

1872.  Joseph Sexton introduced Pampas Grass to his nursery in Goleta to sell the plumes to Europe.  After his business ended, the pampas grass still volunteered all around Goleta, including the wetlands around the Dune Pond on the present COPR.  In 2000, the Pampas Grass was eradicated from the reserve.

1920 (approximate).  Colin Campbell purchased 500 acres that included the site of what is now the COPR and the UCSB West Campus.  He dredged the slough to make a harbor, and planted olive trees and Eucalyptus along trails and roads.

1927. Frederic E. Clements started a research project in what is now Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR).  He was a prominent botanist interested in conducting experimental gardens. 

1930’s. Colin Leiter Campbell and his wife Elizabeth moved to the ranch with their children.  Sheep grazed the bluffs and private airplanes from Hollywood landed on the bluffs when visiting the ranch.

1941 The family left the ranch and the ranch was used as a Coast Guard radar station to watch over possible attacks during WWII.

1945.  The Campbell ranch was sold to Helena Devereux to develop a western branch of the Devereux School.

1967. UCSB purchased most of the land from Miss Devereux, including what is now COPR. The land occupied by the school was still property of Miss Devereux.

1970. The UCSB’s Coal Oil Point Reserve was first established, occupying the southern portion of Devereux Slough (from the main channel to the mouth) and the adjacent dunes.

1978. An informal committee consisting of UCSB faculty and UCSB staff discussed the extension of the size COPR and wrote a formal proposal to the Natural Land and Water Reserves (NLWRS).  The committee included Prof. Robert Norris, Prof. Robert Haller, Prof Steve Rothstein, and Prof. John Melack.  The proposal describes the biological importance of the various habitats of the reserve and predicts that the reserve use as an “outdoor laboratory” would increase from its 265 users per year (1976-77).  The letter also describes problems of intrusion from dogs, people, and vehicles.

The new section of the reserve would include the upper portion of the slough and the upland west of the slough to the pond trail.

1979. Robert Norris, chairman of the NLWRS, requests expansion of the COPR including a “chimp facility” which was to be eliminated. A letter from Jeff Kennedy argues that the Department of Fish and Game, in a letter to UCSB about the 1975 LRDP supports the preservation of the dunes and lagoon and designation of the area as a permanent reserve.

1997. Cris Sandoval and Kevin Lafferty started to work as co-managers of the reserve, as volunteers, while working on their pos doc research at UCSB. They moved in with 1 daughter and soon had their 2nd daughter. 

1998. A strong El Nino event caused erosion on the beach and downed several Eucalyptus and Cypress trees. 

1998. Santa Barbara Audubon members discussed their desire to better protect plovers at the reserve.

1998-1999. Kevin Lafferty conducted a study to understand the conflicts between human recreation and plovers at COPR. This study was the basis for the creation of a Snowy Plover Management Plan.

2000. The first restoration project at COPR successfully removed Acacia longifolia from the eastern dunes.  The project was unfunded and included many months of volunteer work and assistance by the McPherson tree care owner, Duke McPherson and Clark Cowan and hundreds of volunteers. 

2001. Cris Sandoval becomes the official COPR director with a FTE position.

2001. The first successful nesting of Western Snowy Plovers is observed by Adrian O'Loghlen and Cris Sandoval, at the mouth of the Devereux Slough.  The newborn chicks prompted quicker actions to protect the plover family and a new docent program was formed.  The Santa Barbara Audubon Society collaborated to provide funds and docents to protect the new chicks. 

2001. Under pressure from Santa Barbara County for more public access on the reserve, the COPR reserve faculty advisor, Prof. Bruce Tiffney and reserve director, Dr. Cristina Sandoval, wrote a memo to UCSB Planning committee regarding the Ellwood Devereux Open Space project.  In this memo, they describe actions that needed to be taken to protect the reserve for future generations and how increased access would impact the reserve.  They also proposed to include other open space areas that were contiguous to the reserve and had habitat value for research and education.  These areas included the 40 acres west of the reserve, along Ellwood Bluffs, the loop (vernal pool area at entrance to reserve), the west campus bluffs, the North and South fingers.  As per the direction of the new UCSB faculty director, Prof. Bill Murdoch, only the 40 acres were incorporate into the reserve.

2004.  The first management plan for COPR is written by the reserve director, Cris Sandoval, in collaboration by an ad hoc committee of UCSB faculty. The plan detailed actions to reduce problems with public trespassing, off leash dogs, and the conservation of the Western Snowy Plover.

2004. An MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is agreed upon between the COPR and the Office of Budget and Planning to increase the budget for COPR as a way to better protect the reserve as new development (North Campus Housing and Sierra Madre) would increase the number of users in the reserve.  The agreement added 2 new staff (a Conservation Specialist and a Land and Resource Steward), recurrent funds for maintenance of programs, and one-time funding for public access improvements.   

2006. The California Coastal Commission approved the incorporation of 40 acres to the COPR.

Commissioner Sara Wan adds to the approval of the UCSB North Campus development that dogs are not allowed on plover habitat including Sands Beach and Ellwood Beach.

2007. UCSB purchased another portion of the Devereux School and created the UCSB West Campus.

2013.  Prof. Trish Holden and the COPR advisory committee and reserve director, Cris Sandoval, submitted a memo to Assistant Chancellor for Budget and Planning, Todd Lee, requesting a 25-year use of building 7060, on West Campus (former Devereux property) to support the reserve users and administrative functions.   The Campus Planning Committee (CPC) recommended approval of the proposed renovation of the building as a COPR headquarters.  

2014.  The 2010 UCSB Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) says that a COPR management plan must be submitted to the California Coastal Commission within 2 years, to be certified. 

2014. On June 26 2014 the Tank Fire, a brush fire at Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR) burned 19.7 acres (Figure 1).  The fire started on the west end of the reserve and quickly traveled east, as a result of strong dry winds.  The police has not determined the cause of the fire. Restoration projects and natural vegetation was burned but no structures were damaged other than some internet stations. 

2015.  The COPR management was revised and submitted to the California Coastal Commission for “certification”.

2015. The Refugio Oil Spill occurred on May 19, 2015 as the result of a broken inshore pipeline, approximately 10 miles up the coast from Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR, Reserve). A few days after the spill, the oil reached the reserve. The Reserve was closed for 26 days to recreational users as well as education and research activities.

Cleanup efforts started at the Reserve on 5/24/2015 when a large amount of oil appeared on the beach.  Cleanup crews were used at the Reserve for 9 days, on 5/24/2015, 5/25/2015, 5/26/2015, 5/27/2015, 5/28/2015, 5/29/2015, 6/8/2015, 6/11/2015, and 6/12/2015 to remove oil from the beach.

2017. Renovations for the COPR Nature Center started.  The project was funded by several grants, donations, and reserve funds totaling $1,070,000.  Grants included sources such as Wildlife Conservation Board, The California Coastal Conservancy, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara CREF funds, US Fish and Wildlife Services, and the UCSB Coastal Fund.