Santa Monica Beach Restoration Overview
“Your presentation for the proposed natural area on the Santa Monica beach was very nice. I wish it was a bigger project ending in a ribbon of natural plants and terrain all along the beach.”
-Dr. Devgan; local homeowner
This pilot project used low-lying sand fencing and native plant seeds installed in December 2016 to restore a highly impacted beach system with the goal of bringing back a diverse, endemic-rich, coastal plant and wildlife community which has been almost completely eliminated from the Los Angeles region. We believe that the iconic beaches of Santa Monica are a beautiful and important location to try out this restoration project, which utilizes existing sand to transform a portion of the beach into a sustainable coastal strand and foredune habitat complex resilient to sea level rise and wave erosion.
This demonstration site will provide not only a scientific basis to develop guidelines and protocols but an integrated, locally-based program for increasing the usefulness of natural environments in a developed area. It will evaluate “soft” low-cost natural shore protection from sea-level rise and storms while providing public benefits and enhancing natural resource values.
Design aspects feature curved, flowing, low-lying fence lines, a path through the restoration area, and an unenclosed perimeter along the water’s edge. Many of these design components are incorporated to minimize disturbance, and even enhance your interaction with the beach. The site allows visitors to continue to recreate as well as enjoy the local native flora and fauna that are absent along the groomed beaches of the Santa Monica Bay.
Other public benefits include:
Enhancing a developed coastline
Familiarizing residents, especially children, with a healthy, natural landscape
Promoting tourism based on environmental values through unique aesthetics and bird watching opportunities
Educational opportunities including native plants and healthy beach management
Understanding a ‘softscape’ climate change protection project
All of these benefits are expected while having low-to-no impact on existing recreational uses of the beach.
“The restoration project is an important and innovative project that demonstrates a nature based adaptation approach to sea level rise for Santa Monica Bay’s beaches. The beaches of this region are an important natural resource that also serve as barriers to encroaching seas. Decision makers need to carefully plan for adaptation strategies that foster resilience and ensure vibrant coastal communities.”
– Phyllis Grifman; Associate Director, Sea Grant Program USC
Small dune hummocks are slowly forming, and are expected to be about 1 to 3 feet tall. The restoration site will be seeded with native southern California coastal beach species including beautiful flowering sand verbena and beach evening primrose (pictured to the left). The plant palette will also include sea scale and beach bur, both of which are low-profile and help form miniature sand dunes. The presence of these vegetated small dune hummocks will allow for invertebrates and local shorebirds to make use of this previously uninhabitable space. Similar beach restorations have been successfully conducted along the California coastline, such as Surfers Point in Ventura.
Project implementation should begin late summer or early fall of this year (2016), and should only take about 3-4 weeks, followed by monitoring and maintenance for several years. Over the course of 1 to 3 years, small dune hummocks will slowly form. These will provide not only a visibly pleasing landscape and habitat, but also an effective and inexpensive means of reducing storm and sea level rise damage.
Before and After Artistic Site Renderings
“Unique plants and animals thrive between sea and land in beach ecosystems. Native wildflowers provide beauty for beach-goers and habitat for nature.”
– Karen Martin, PhD; Pepperdine University
Below are ‘before’ and ‘after’ artistic design renderings to help visualize what the site will look like in several years. As you can see, the design is very low-profile and it’s curved edges, walking path, and unenclosed segment along the water’s edge allows it to maintain a welcoming feel, and enhance recreational opportunities.
Additional artistic renderings of the restoration site were developed by Mia Lehrer & Associates. Please feel free to view or download them below:
Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Resources
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For more detailed information regarding the methodology used for project implementation and details on the monitoring plan please refer to the Beach Restoration Proposal.