Friday, August 2, 2013

Erosion of Our Nation's Coastlines: Surfrider Chapters Fight to Preserve Our Beaches

The Blight of Coastal Armor: Texas Gulf Coast  Photo: Ellis Pickett

According to Ellis, the degraded seawall in the photo is only the latest armoring scheme to protect these homes.The jagged remnants of the original seawall are now submerged somewhere out  in the surf zone. See Texas Chapter link.

Greetings Surfriders and Friends,

While we await the next opportunity to press our case for restoring the Sloat and the Sharp Park area shoreline, we thought it would be a good time to check in on other erosion campaigns led by the Surfrider Foundation (see links below).

California:
NEW! Martin's Beach at Half Moon Bay is now armored  http://martinsbeach.blogspot.com/
Highway 1 Princeton / Half Moon Bay erosion/armoring/fill project http://smc.surfrider.org/?p=802
Goleta Beach armoring / managed retreat plan: http://santabarbara.surfrider.org/issues/goleta-beach/
Ventura's C-Street (Surfer's Point) erosion / managed retreat project http://surferspoint.org/
Solana Beach and north county seawall / fill projects (San Diego County) http://sandiego.surfrider.org/campaigns/beach-preservation

Gulf Coast:
Texas beach erosion, armor, and public access law http://robnixon.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-texas-legislative-fight-for-texas.html

East Coast:
Jersey Shore beach fill and post-Sandy challenges: http://jerseyshore.surfrider.org/
Palm Beach Florida armoring and fill  http://www.surfriderpbc.org/campaigns_positionstatements.html
Cocoa Beach post fill surf break monitoring http://cocoabeach.surfrider.org/north-reach-beach-nourishment-2013/

Nearly all the campaigns share a common story-line:

Shoreline development is built without respect for the consequences of long term erosion patterns.  When the surf zone eventually threatens such development, the first reaction is to place revetments or sea walls to be used as defense.  At a certain point, when the beaches become almost entirely submerged, sand nourishment projects are used.

Usually, the armoring and sand replenishment projects buy time, restoring the beaches for a limited period. However, eventually the sand and/or shoreline access disappears under the ever encroaching surfline. A crisis or emergency typically occurs when a large storm moves in, wipes out the beach, and brings a new round of damage to remaining structures.

As we know, this just reignites the cycle.  New, "improved" armoring/beach nourishment projects are built that end up with the same result - limited, short term success at high cost.  Unfortunately, more than a few of these armoring/nourishment sites have also threatened the quality of our surfbreaks.

We say it is time to update coastal zoning plans so as to spread the use of long term strategies based on managed retreat.  With long term planning that allows for shorelines to migrate inland, we can both preserve the integrity of our nation's coastlines and avoid a parade of expensive engineering projects.

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