Ocean Meadows to become natural habitat again

Golf course closes after nearly five decades

Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 05:46 PM PDT Apr 01, 2013    UPDATED: 06:29 PM PDT Apr 01, 2013 
ocean_meadows_5
GOLETA, Calif. -

The Ocean Meadows Golf Course has shut down the greens for good after nearly five decades.

The clubhouse is boarded up but some golfers took advantage of an empty course.

The Trust for Public Land bought Ocean Meadows for $7 million. The plan is to restore the natural wetlands that were a part of the Devereux slough.

“The 500,000 cubic yards of dirt that was filled in to create the golf course back in 1965 will be basically dug out and put back into the hillside adjacent to the golf course where it came from,” said Alex Size, project manager for the Trust for Public Lands.

Most of the golfers were disappointed to hear the nine-hole course won’t be open for business anymore, but the reason behind it makes it a little easier to swallow.

“Oh, I don't mind it at all, don't mind it at all. Nature comes first and if that's what needs to happen, then it needs to happen,” said Jody Johnson.

Johnson dropped off his daughter at UC Santa Barbara after spring break and brought his golf clubs along to play at the course. He was shocked to see the clubhouse closed.

Once the dirt is dug up, the plan is to restore the natural habitat and wildlife.

The land is close to a neighborhood and UCSB, so part of the plan is to add trails for the public.

“A lot of kids at UCSB, that’s their main mode of transportation is biking and this will be another area for them to bike around and explore,” said Jake Olsen, about to tee off at the ninth hole.

The 64 acres will be donated to UCSB and one of the ideas is to create an education center on the property.

“The wetlands thing is a good idea. It's always a good idea to come out and explore. When you're a cheap student, you can just wander about, it's a cool place to come visit,” said Kevin Yanez.

It could take one year to get permits for the restoration, and restoration itself could take three to six years. The project cost ranges from $9 million to $15 million.