santa-monica-beach-restoration-pilot-project - beach-habitat

Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project

Returning three acres of healthy and thriving beach habitat.

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Santa Monica Beach Restoration Overview

The Bay Foundation (TBF) restored approximately three acres of plants adapted to live on the beach very close to the shoreline for the Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project. Living on the ocean’s edge, this community of plants attracted insects and birds, and adapted to the harsh conditions of beach life, including salt spray, wind, and intense sunlight.

As the plants of the coastal strand habitat grow, they capture windblown sand beneath their branches and leaves. Over time, they build sand dunes that prevent waves and extreme tides from flooding the beach and nearby infrastructure. By reestablishing this habitat, TBF and its partners are able to affordably create beaches that are naturally resistant to sea level rise, while creating refuge for endangered species and adding natural beauty to our beaches.

Scientific monitoring of this pilot project is being used to inform other projects in development by TBF across the Los Angeles County coast. Sea level rise and more frequently large-wave events are a result of global climate change impacting our coast. These projects, taken together, are the start of a significant effort to locally adapt to climate change. The beaches of Los Angeles are iconographic. This effort uniquely preserves our beaches and gives them the capacity to protect us from climate change.

Project Highlights

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Bike Path Before & After

Click through to view a before and after view of the restoration site from the bike path, facing south. There is minimal change in view from this perspective.

Additional Benefits

This project brings these benefits with low-to-no impact on existing recreational uses of the beach

  • 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

Restoration Results

The restoration site was seeded with native southern California coastal beach species, including beautiful flowering sand verbena and beach evening primrose. Today, small dune hummocks are slowly forming that stand one to three feet tall.

The plant palette also included 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 at Surfers Point in Ventura.

Ongoing Monitoring and Maintenance

Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project monitoring and maintenance is ongoing, and public reports are available in the Resources section. This restoration project provides not only a visibly pleasing landscape and habitat, but also an effective and inexpensive means of reducing damage from storms and sea level rise.

Central Walking Path Before & After

Click through to view a before and after view of the restoration site from the central walking path, facing northwest with the Malibu coastline in the background.

Bike Path Before & After

Click through to view a before and after view of the restoration site from the bike path, facing south. There is minimal change in view from this perspective.

Additional Benefits

This project brings these benefits with low-to-no impact on existing recreational uses of the beach

  • 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
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