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California and the West

Funds OKd to Fight Beach Erosion

Ecology: Gov. Davis announces $10 million in grants for replenishment of sand and research on ways to prevent further damage.


Gov. Gray Davis on Wednesday announced $10 million in grants to combat erosion of sand on beaches from San Francisco to San Diego.

Some of the money will pay for immediate sand replenishment, but much will be used to study natural replenishment processes, with the goal of decreasing constant, costly sand replacement projects.

"California's beaches are a valuable ecological, economic and recreational resource," Davis said in a statement. "These grants will help cities and counties along the coast to restore public beaches and study new approaches to controlling seashore erosion."

Stanley Young, spokesman for the governor's resources agency, said, "We have a full-court press on here to find solutions that work in the long term."

The largest grant, $3.85 million, went to Surfside-Sunset Beach in Orange County. Before construction of a jetty to protect the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station in the 1940s disrupted tidal patterns, the beach had served as a source of sand washed up on 17 miles of shore between Seal Beach and Newport Beach.

Orange County cities received the lion's share of the grant money, nearly $4.7 million. San Diego County cities were allocated more than $2.2 million. Los Angeles County received $500,000 and San Francisco received $1 million. The grants also include $500,000 to conduct a five-year study to measure the effects of waves on sediment.

Scientists will focus on ways of preventing erosion by learning more about how waves bring sand to beaches, and creating a sediment model that reflects West Coast wave patterns. Beach erosion is often caused by human activity or structures, such as sea walls, that interfere with natural processes.

Christopher J. Evans, executive director of the San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation, said he was heartened to hear that Davis is earmarking money to search for natural alternatives to sea walls.

At least one-quarter of the shoreline along a 535-mile stretch from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Mexican border is fortified with such structures, according to the California Coastal Commission. Studies show that the practice disrupts water flow so severely that sand is often washed away.

Evans said sea walls should only be permitted in true emergency situations, when life or property is seriously threatened.

"Those kind of practices have hurt our coast, and are robbing from future generations," he said. "Two hundred years ago, natural processes were nourishing our beaches in ways we don't see anymore."


Beach Restoration

A total of $10 million in grants will be used for sand-replenishment projects and for studies of natural replenishment of California beaches.


San Francisco: $1 million

Goleta County Beach: $650,000

Carpinteria: $200,000

Port Hueneme: $129,500

Long Beach: $100,000

Surfside-Sunset Beach: $3.9 million

Seal Beach: $113,750

Huntington Beach: $255,250

Newport Beach: $40,250

San Clemente: $425,000

Encinitas: $400,000

Solana Beach: $400,000

Imperial Beach: $200,000


Los Angeles County: $500,000

Scripps wave and sediment study: $500,000

San Diego County beach restoration project: $1.24 million

Source: Gov. Gray Davis' office

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