Santa Monica beaches are some of the most recognizable and popular beaches in the world and draw over 17,000,000 beach goers per year. Although sandy beaches traditionally have been, and continue to be managed primarily as recreation areas, they are also an important natural habitat. The Bay Foundation (TBF), in partnership with the City of Santa Monica, is transforming approximately 3 acres of that landscape with its Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project into a healthy, beautiful coastal ecosystem, to address coastal hazard risks while protecting and enhancing coastal resources, such as public beach access and recreation, natural shoreline habitat, and aesthetic values.
Seeded in December 2016 with native coastal strand species, such as flowering sand verbena and beach evening primrose, the winter’s steady rain produced thousands of sprouting seedlings, the beginnings of dune hummocks, and regular visits from wildlife, including the Federally-threatened western snowy plover’s first nest in 70 years in L.A. and Orange Counties (the nest did not survive high winds).
The project aims to restore natural processes to this impacted beach habitat and create a diverse native ecosystem that manages sand transport in a way that will build shoreline resiliency and provide protection measures against sea level rise and coastal storms.
The project is also meant to offer a unique beach aesthetic for the region, an opportunity to see how people in Los Angeles interact with a “wild beach”, and bird watching opportunities for visitors. There is a path through the restoration area, and it is open along the water’s edge. Many of the design components are created to minimize disturbance, and encourage visitors’ interaction with the beach, from normal recreation to enjoying and learning about the local native plants. To date, both beach visitors and media have exhibited great interest in this part of the beach. Let the summer begin!
For more information visit the The Bay Foundation Website.