California Coastal Armoring Report Presented

Stanford Law School has released the California Coastal Armoring Report, named Managing Coastal Armoring and Climate Change Adaptation in the 21st Century.

In response to erosion and storm events, Californians have built seawalls, revetments, and other “coastal armoring” structures along significant portions of California’s coast, this report stated.

Coastal armoring now occupies more than 110 miles, or at least 10 percent, of the overall California coastline, including 33 percent of the southern California coastline.

This coastal armoring has diminished California’s beaches and habitat, irreversibly altered bluffs, caused increased erosion to neighboring properties, and marred the natural beauty of the coast.

A common perception is that seawalls and revetments protect the coast. Although such armoring structures may temporarily protect property from encroachment by the sea, they accelerate erosion of existing beaches and coastal habitats in the areas where they are located, limit beach access, and impede coastal recreation.

Scientific evidence shows that coastal armoring structures prevent coastal ecosystems from migrating inland and cut off sand supply by preventing natural erosion processes. Put simply, when placed on an eroding or retreating beach, armoring structures will cause that beach to narrow and eventually disappear.

Wave energy reflecting off of shoreline armoring structures also undercuts the beach and can hasten coastal erosion in front of the structure as well as on neighboring properties, harming those properties and stimulating yet more armoring.

In short, many of California’s beaches, and the amenities and ecosystems they provide, may inevitably disappear due to armoring.

Molly Melius, Stanford Law School

For the complete report, click here.

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