Santa Barbara County has options for where to dump excess mud and debris after major rains, yet they choose Goleta Bay apparently because it seems to be the easiest to get dump trucks and bulldozers into and out of.

In doing so, they turn a thriving ecosystem into a wasteland, drive away wildlife, and take food out of the mouths of underprivileged children and adults.

Can you tell I’m upset? I sure am! And this isn’t the first time. The county has done this repeatedly, each time we have a wet winter that causes mudflows.

While Goleta Bay may be the easiest of the mud and debris destination options, it is the most devastating to wildlife, ecosystem and people. Wildlife is pushed out of the bay, and people suffer the loss. It takes a very long time for the bay to return to health after these big dumps.

While it is true that no matter where they dump the yuck, it winds up in the ocean, I believe the county should consider local habitat and the needs of both the wildlife and people who depend upon the area for their nourishment. These considerations should weigh more heavily than ease and cost.

Consider that Goleta Bay is a vulnerable ecosystem and consider that subsistence anglers depend on Goleta Pier to put healthy protein on the family table.

Goleta Pier is precious to our underprivileged community for three big reasons: 1) parking is free, so subsistence anglers can carpool to save gas and not worry about the cost of parking. 2) A California fishing license is not needed on a pier, which equates to another big savings. 3) Goleta Bay often sees good fishing for a wide variety of species of fish, crab and lobsters.

I’ve heard of dumps done down the coast away from vulnerable bays, and I’ve heard that dumping could be done into the river near Buellton.

Face it, there are no ideal spots where dump trucks and bulldozers can get into and out of, but a small natural bay like Goleta Bay where a popular county park is located is the worst of the possible dump site options.

Stop it! Take that stuff somewhere it doesn’t immediately affect so much wildlife, affect so many people, and hurt our disadvantaged community members.

Santa Barbara County government does many things right, and I am generally proud of them. For instance, the staff at Goleta Beach County Park are amazingly knowledgeable and helpful people who genuinely want to connect park visitors with nature and help them enjoy a day at the pretty beach park.

I enjoy my interactions with the park staff. I personally feel that their job becomes terribly difficult when the dump trucks full of yuck show up to dump it and bulldoze it out into the bay.

Dumping in Goleta Bay is a devastating decision, and I want the county to stop.

Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.