Description: The Goleta Slough is an area of estuary, tidal creeks, tidal marsh, and wetlands near Goleta, California, USA. It primarily consists of the filled and unfilled remnants of the historic inner Goleta Bay about 8 miles (13 km) west of Santa Barbara. The slough empties into the Pacific Ocean through an intermittently closed mouth at Goleta Beach County Park just east of the UCSB campus and Isla Vista. The slough drains the Goleta Valley and watershed, and receives the water of all of the major creeks in the Goleta area including the southern face of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
The Santa Barbara Airport has the largest border on the slough and contains the largest part of the slough. UCSB, Isla Vista, the City of Goleta and other unincorporated areas of the county, including the landward bluffs of More Mesa, surround and encompass the rest of the slough.
The Goleta Slough as it exists today is the result of two major historical events of the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century. The first was the heavy grazing by cattle on the surrounding foothills and mountainsides followed by wide ranging grassfires, heavy rains in 1861/62, and flooding which caused so much erosion and deposition of sediment in the mouths of the creeks emptying into Goleta Bay that most of the bay became silt-filled salt marsh in just a couple of years. The second event was the filling and conversion of the marsh and remaining bay into a military airbase during World War II. This filling was completed by the reduction of the rest of Mescalitan Island, which was used for fill for the airport and the surrounding area. The former location of Mescalitan island now contains a sewage treatment plant.
While no longer having a regularly navigable mouth, nor depths in most places suitable for anything except canoes, kayaks, and very small boats, the slough remains a very important area of vital wetlands, salt marsh, and estuarian creeks.