Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 9: Bayshore Bikeway Resiliency Project

(Intro to the series here)

“I’ve seen Imperial Beach become the city it is today… We have a lot of opportunities to do really cool projects, and one of them is here on the south end of San Diego Bay.” – Chris Helmer

Today we are in the City of Imperial Beach, discussing a Prop 68 Project to determine the best path forward for a retrofit of a 1.2-mile segment of the San Diego Bayshore Bikeway. This project provides multiple benefits to the surrounding underserved community of Imperial Beach, including flood protection, sea level rise resilience, and enhanced coastal access. The bikeway is a heavily used recreational corridor that connects to adjacent communities (National City, Chula Vista, San Diego, Coronado, and Imperial Beach). This area is already experiencing coastal flooding during king tides, so action is needed now to remedy the flooding risks of today and into the future.

 Collaboration is key to the success of this project. Ultimately the project team is interested in leveraging their existing and growing partnerships with local and state agencies and organizations to protect this low-lying community of Imperial Beach from current and future flooding. The project team is hyper aware of the potential climate-driven impacts facing Imperial Beach and they’re working hard to be proactive and adapt before it’s too late.

“We’re looking to re-envision the future opportunities for this community, their recreational opportunities, and options for expanding habitat,” says Chris Helmer the Project Manager. “We’re thinking about our community, we’re thinking about the region, and we’re thinking about the environment and I think it’s essential for us to be pursuing projects like this,” adds Meagan Openshaw, a Senior Planner on the project.

The City of Imperial Beach, in collaboration with Nexus, will be working alongside GHD and City Thinkers to develop a variety of strategies for how to best address existing and future flooding for this community and its surrounding infrastructure as risks grow with sea level rise. The project team has prioritized engagement with the community and other relevant stakeholders throughout this process.  … read more

Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 8: BEACON Sediment Management Pilot Program

(Intro to the series here)

“I’m excited to shorten the distance between the science that we all support and the actual way that we apply it to our restoration projects” – Marc Beyeler

Today we are in Ventura, California visiting the Surfer’s Point Dune Restoration Site which is an exemplary case study of sediment management, restoration, and managed retreat. Adjacent to this dune restoration site is an area that has experienced extensive erosion with remnants of bike pathways, parking lots, and sewage plumbing from decades past now eroded, exposed, and part of the beach landscape. This stark contrast provided a nice visual representation of the problem (beach erosion) facing much of California’s coast juxtaposed to one of the many solutions (managed retreat).

The Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON) is a Joint Powers Authority whose members include the Counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura as well as the coastal cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme, covering 144 miles of coastline. BEACON seeks to keep important sediment within the coastal watershed that would otherwise be hauled to a disposal site. To increase coastal resilience to erosion and sea level rise impacts, BEACON works to plan and implement projects that include sediment management, beach nourishment, and beach and dune restoration. … read more

Announcing the Environmental Justice Advisory Group

An important component of Ocean Protection Council’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan is advancing more equitable and comprehensive ocean and coastal science research, policies, programs and projects that reflect the connection between people, communities, and natural systems.

To that end, OPC staff, in collaboration with funding grantee, Better World Group, began the development of an Equity Plan, beginning with forming an Environmental Justice (EJ) Advisory Group. Comprised of community leaders and advocates representative of California’s diverse regions, members will use their expertise to guide the Plan’s development.

The project team and EJ Advisory Group members will solicit feedback and public comment on the draft Equity Plan when it is released this fall. Staff anticipates bringing the final proposed Plan for adoption consideration at the February 2022 Council meeting. Members of the EJ Advisory Group are listed below.

… read more

Future Leaders, Shiny #SciComm and Silly-But-Serious Sea Level Rise: Tuesday’s OPC Meeting, Recapped

The Ocean Protection Council’s Sept. 14 meeting covered a variety of issues, including marine protected areas and microplastics, but the two agenda items that gathered the most kudos were presentations by OPC’s interns andSea Grant Fellow Dr. Kat Beheshti’s Prop 68 miniseries. Both drew well-deserved admiration from Councilmembers and set the stage for how OPC intends to invest in future leadership and engaging storytelling. 

OPC’s first-ever paid internship program 

In summer 2021, OPC hosted a cohort of six interns who helped advance priorities in OPC’s Strategic Plan to Protect California’s Coast and Ocean while gaining meaningful professional experience within state government. Bella Alvarado, Mairin Culwell, Madhu Garimella, Nayre Herrera, and Claudia Sanchez-Rea were part of OPC’s first-ever 10-week paid summer internship program, which was focused on providing undergraduate college students with the opportunity to build a foundational background and robust overview of California’s coastal and ocean science, policy, and management work.  

Additionally, Molly Glickman joined OPC through a merit-based award from the Haas Center for Public Service’s Undergraduate Fellowships Program at Stanford University, the fourth year of an ongoing partnership between OPC and Stanford. During the informational item, each intern provided a brief presentation on their projects, which can be viewed starting at minute 31:00 on OPC’s YouTube channel. As Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said, “Remarkable work!”  … read more

Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 7: Planning Regional Coastal Resiliency for California State Parks

(Intro to the series here)

“This project provides an opportunity for all Californians to have a say in what the California coast of the future will look like.” – Michelle Succow

Today we are talking about a Prop 68 Project to develop a template for how coastal state parks should assess sea-level rise vulnerability and how to plan and adapt to site-specific impacts. The team at State Parks decided to pilot this work in the San Diego District, given the diversity of coastal habitats and land uses in the region.

California State Parks manages nearly 25 percent of the California coastline, with 128 coastal units. This presents an incredible opportunity for State Parks to lead the state in moving forward on sea-level rise planning and adaptation. “Coastal units in the State Park system are already experiencing impacts caused by severe erosion and flooding and we anticipate that those impacts are going to increase as sea levels rise and so having a consistent and statewide approach for how State Parks can assess those vulnerabilities, is really important,” notes Michelle Succow, one of the leading members of the Project Team. This project will establish that statewide approach to vulnerability assessments across State Park units and develop a roadmap for how the identified vulnerabilities can be addressed through planning and adaptive measures. Earlier this year, State Parks released their Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy and this project advances many of the goals identified in the Strategy. … read more

Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 6: Elkhorn Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Phase III

“Our hope is that this project will demonstrate we can undo past damage and that it’s worth it because you cannot have healthy humans without a healthy environment” – Monique Fountain

Today we are visiting Elkhorn Slough. Designated a “Wetland of International Importance” by the Ramsar Convention, the Slough supports a diversity of species, ranging from harbor seals to Dungeness crab. Of course, the Slough is known for the large resident population of southern sea otters that can be seen by the visiting public at close range swimming in the tidal creeks, foraging in the eelgrass meadows, and resting on the salt marsh where they frequently haul out. While these charismatic and fuzzy animals are effective at drawing in the public and fostering stewardship across the broader Monterey Bay community, equally as important are our coastal foundation species (salt marsh, eelgrass, oysters) which are responsible for building the emblematic ecosystems of the California coast. 

This Prop 68 Project will complete the last 30 acres of a 119-acre tidal marsh restoration project and includes the restoration of tidal marsh, eelgrass beds, and Olympia oysters. Reversing the degradation that Elkhorn Slough has experienced over the past 150 years, this project aims to re-build a coastal landscape that is resilient to sea-level rise. The Project Team includes multiple state agencies, academics, and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. “This is our chance to bring back some of those wild places in partnership with Native Americans so that these coastal habitats can once again provide the sort of values that they have in the past as a legacy for future generations” notes Dr. Kerstin Wasson, science lead on the project.  … read more

OPC is Hiring an Administration and Finance Analyst

OPC is hiring a limited term Staff Services Analyst to provide critical support for grant and contract administration, accounting, and other administrative duties, as needed.  Applicants should have strong attention to detail, high-level proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (including Word, Excel and Outlook), and experience related to bookkeeping, invoice processing, budgets, or other related work.  The ability to work in a fast-paced environment and prioritize tasks is a must.

Completion of the Staff Services Analyst State Civil Service Examination is required, and exam scores must rank in the top three tiers within the applicant pool to be further considered in the application process; information on the examination can be found here. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all OPC staff are currently working remotely.  However, once staff return to the office, the Staff Services Analyst will be required to work from the office in Sacramento one to three days a week. This position is limited term (minimum of two years) with the potential of becoming permanent.

The application deadline is September 21, 2021.  For more details and to apply, please visit: https://www.calcareers.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=267672

California Biodiversity Day 2021 – Get Involved!

As a state, California boasts both the highest number of species total and the highest number of species that occur nowhere else. Our state’s animal and plant life is so varied that we’ve been named as one of 36 Global Biodiversity Hotspots by Conservation International. For California Biodiversity Day on Tuesday, Sept. 7, we’re turning our attention to what climate change means for ocean wildlife – and what we’re doing to protect the habitat those creatures rely on. (See the full line-up of California Biodiversity Day events here.)

Plenty of iconic ocean creatures can be seen from California’s shores including harbor seals, sea otters, elephant seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles and whales. Our tide pools feature anemones, urchins, nudibranchs, limpets, mussels, crabs and many more animals uniquely suited to living in these constantly changing homes. Cormorants, osprey, sandpipers, godwits and pelicans are only some of the hundreds of species of coastal birds diving, soaring and nesting along our beaches. Dozens of types of flowers and other plants dot long stretches of undeveloped coastline. This all combines to create a fascinating and beautiful 1,100 miles along the Pacific Ocean. … read more

Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 5: Heron’s Head Shoreline Resilience Project

(Intro to the series here)

“We spend a lot of our lives hearing about how humans are negatively affecting the environment…and we don’t always hear about the exciting good things we do for the environment–and this project is one of those” – Erica Petersen

Today we are at Heron’s Head Park in San Francisco to meet with members of the team leading a large project that will use nature to engineer resilience to erosion and sea level rise. This project seeks to protect this highly accessible and valuable wetland habitat for future generations.

“With this project we get to demonstrate these natural infrastructure techniques for shoreline protection. These dynamic solutions to climate change and sea level rise are going to be so important over the coming decades, it’s great to start to install them now and learn from them and build the knowledge and scientific basis for applying these [nature-based solutions] throughout the state,” comments Eddie Divita, lead ESA designer on the project.

The shoreline at Heron’s Head Park has been eroding for the past 20 years and so to prevent further erosion this project will construct a coarse material beach and an adjacent offshore oyster reef to dampen the wave action that is currently pounding the shore. “Every year that we don’t control shoreline erosion, we’re losing marsh,” notes Carol Bach, Lead Project Manager. 

Photo courtesy Literacy for Environmental Justice

This Prop 68 project also includes the restoration of endangered tidal marsh plant, Suaeda californica, or the California sea-blite; this plant grows tall and climbs, providing ideal high tide refuge for bird and mammal species seeking cover to avoid predators while also staying dry. Over time, the team expects the coarse material beach to develop a wave-built berm. To stabilize the berm and provide high-tide refuge for marsh animals, Dr. Katharyn Boyer and her team of San Francisco State University undergraduate and graduate students in partnership with the community-based non profit education organization, Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), will plant S. californica using plants raised by LEJ Eco-Apprentices.

Boyer has used this “arboring” technique at other sites throughout San Francisco Bay and is optimistic that the S. californica restoration at Heron’s Head will provide critical habitat for species such as the federally-endangered Ridgway’s Rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. “We can use a federally endangered plant to support some federally endangered animal species,” adds Boyer.  

Photo courtesy Bionic Landscape Architects

San Francisco Bay is an ideal location for this type of project: “the Bay is directly connected to the outer coast of California, it drains 40 percent of the state’s watershed, and supports many endangered and endemic species,” says Marilyn Latta, Project Manager for the State Coastal Conservancy. “This project is part of an overall regional blueprint for the Bay to bring back not only tidal wetlands, with a goal to restore 100,000 acres of tidal wetlands within the Bay, but also to restore the subtidal habitats that we so rarely see…seagrasses, oyster reefs, sandy bottom, mudflats,” adds Latta. … read more

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