What can we do about coastal erosion?
Currently, the sandy beaches we love and know so well are under threat from coastal
development. There are many hard structures that stand on the shoreline. These stubborn
structures pay little regard to the dynamic forces at work on the beach. Along the
California coast, coastal armory is apparent in almost every coastal city. Sandy beaches
are a limited resource as cities grow and more coasts are developed. The purpose of
armoring the coast is to stabilize the shoreline and protect any structures. The downfall of
armoring the coast is that the ocean will always win. The economic losses are high when
we choose to protect coastal development, instead of working with the dynamic nature of
Hard structures are also engineered upstream from the beach, which negatively affects
the sediment supply to sandy beaches. Dams have a devastating impact on river
ecosystems and sandy beaches. The sediment that is trapped behind a dam is essentially
robbed from the beach downstream, as well as the entire littoral cell that sand moves
down the California coast.
Sand is really important for beach ecosystems to thrive. Without the sand, winter storms
will heavily erode the coastline. There are programs groom beaches in order to appear
pristine to the public. These programs remove trash and marine debris from the shores,
yet they threaten the sandy beach ecosystem that thrives off kelp racks, dune vegetation,
and microorganisms that rely on the sand as a habitat.
What can we do?
Beach nourishment and replenishment programs are the quick-fix solutions to protect
structures on the beach. However, this is only a temporary solution. The sand gets
transported offshore and down the coast with the long shore currents. There are other
initiatives being made to prevent coastal erosion, and that involves managing shoreline
retreat. To manage shoreline retreat implies working with the dynamic nature of the
ocean and getting involved with local legislation to ensure the protection of our
California sandy beaches. Other non-profit organizations, such as Surfrider Foundation,
are good advocacy groups that work to make policy changes in favor of protecting the
coastline. To find your local chapter, check out their webpage: https://www.surfrider.org/
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Ghandi
You can also write to your government representative to let them know you care about the issues. The more letters and e-mails they receive, the more they are going to realize that people care about our coast. You can find your local representative here. Be actively involved in your community and show others that you care.