At times I look across the expanse of the slough and just whistle at the audacity of the war effort in the 1940s that made it OK to bulldoze the historic Mescaltitlan Island to create an airbase, landfill portions of the estuary and end what had been a tradition of camping and seafood gathering for as far back as anyone can remember.
Then, development of Goleta Beach changed tidal flow patterns, which had huge implications for the health of the slough’s ecosystem.
The slough is now restored to some degree, although tidal flow to the sea is often impeded. The slough is a rich area for diversity of flora and fauna and serves as a nursery and hunting grounds for a multitude of critters.
Its fate is tied inexorably to that of Goleta Beach, where a full-fledged political battle is being waged over whether to create a hard fix to the encroaching erosion problem, continue the soft approach of importing sand, or plan and execute a managed retreat and letting nature take its course. The decisions made will most certainly affect the slough.
Even though access to the slough is restricted, we do enjoy an incredible variety of vista points, thanks to roads, bridges, walking paths and bike paths. I heartily recommend visiting the slough, whether or not you spend some time at the beautiful beach.
My own feeling is that the slough is just as fabulous a destination. You can find more critters than you can count, if you look closely and hold still. You will find serene scenes that would look great painted on canvas, which isn’t a bad idea.
You can also find like-minded nature lovers who are happy to talk about how enjoyable the place is to visit. It is a precious local resource.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.