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A Lesson Nature's Restoration
updated: Jul 07, 2014, 4:25 PM

Source: UCSB

The fire at UCSB's Coal Oil Point Reserve may have charred over 20 acres of the landscape, but it also opened up a rare opportunity for the scientists that work there

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) - Cristina Sandoval picks her way through the blackened remains of brush and scrub at UC Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve, where a fire recently consumed an estimated 20 or so acres. It began near midnight on June 26, and within an hour or so - driven by 25 mph winds blowing west to east - it had traveled along the boundary of dense brush and the sand dunes on the reserve's southern side, devouring the drought-ridden plants and eucalyptus trees as well as some fencing and even some equipment installed to monitor the area. It left in its wake a layer of ash, branches and stumps.

In her 20 years as the reserve's director, Sandoval has witnessed her fair share of intense events at Coal Oil Point. Floods and storms batter the coastal reserve regularly, the effects of El Niño weather patterns. Huge waves occasionally rush from the seaward side through the dunes and into the brushy areas, flooding the pond and drowning plants in seawater. In her time, Sandoval has worried about trespassers wandering into the ecological research areas, tried to keep dogs and other disturbances away from the endangered snowy plovers that live on the beach and gotten her hands dirty with restoration projects to keep the invasive plant species at bay. But rarely, if ever, has she dealt with fire.

To view the complete story go to news.ucsb.edu


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