Trucks by the dozens have been rolling into Goleta Beach County Park dumping destructive mud into pristine Goleta Bay. This seems to be an annual spectacle, showcasing how the county has designated Goleta Beach as a mud dump site, so matter the severe consequences to habitat, sea creatures, beach goers and subsistence anglers.
Why is it such an attractive place to dump mud from Montecito or elsewhere? Because it is one of the few places where trucks can get right to the beach, dump mud and then bulldozers shape the mess somehow. That makes it relatively cheap and easy (compared to other sites) for the county, and it seems hard to resist the combination of cheap and easy.
There are good, strong reasons why cheap and easy should be outweighed by the mud being destructive to the environment and devastating to subsistence anglers who rely on Goleta Beach Pier. With our COVID-19-related economic disaster, the ranks of subsistence anglers are swelling at an alarming rate.
We should be working on ways to enhance opportunities for subsistence fishers to catch fresh fish protein for tonight’s family meal. Dumping tonnage of harmful and dangerous bacteria into one of the most important subsistence fishing locations on the Central Coast is not serving the needs of our disadvantaged community.
This controversial mud dump process will likely play out this year as it has in recent years when the county did not take the time and spend the money to deposit the mud somewhere else such as the Santa Ynez River watershed, which flows to the ocean in an area with restricted access by anglers.
Here is what I expect, from experience. Soon, the bacteria from the mud will drive up the bacteria count in the waters of the beach, and signs will go up warning people not to go in the water because of health risks. It could even get bad enough to close the beach for some time. Summer beach plans may well be ruined.
The pristine waters of Goleta Bay will be polluted, and the quality of the fishing will suffer because fish swim away or become unhealthy and don’t feed naturally.
Subsistence fishers and other recreational anglers will not trust the fish they catch to be good, safe nutrition for themselves and their families, so a major subsistence fishing opportunity will be destroyed for some time. Because of that, my bait & tackle shack out on Goleta Pier will suffer for business.
Slowly over many months the ocean will once again clean up or at least dilute the county’s mess and become healthy again, perhaps just in time for next winter’s rains and subsequent mud dumps as the county again shows a disrespect for the health of Goleta Bay. Can you tell that this annual mud dump bothers me?
— 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.