The land around Humboldt Bay is slowly subsiding, while sea levels are rising, creating a double whammy that will eventually threaten properties, infrastructure, industry, housing and natural environs.
In preparing for the inevitable trouble that lies ahead, planners are looking at how to brace dikes and levees and how to manage wetlands and tidelands to provide maximum protection against the rising waters.
The main bulwark protecting the inland areas is the littoral stretching from Trinidad to Centerville.
When deciding how to prepare for the rising waters – and deciding how to manage the beach and dunes – it is of the utmost importance that leaders make informed choices based on science.
That’s exactly what the proposed Coastal Dune Vulnerability and Adaptation study would provide leaders – scientific information.
Researchers would look at 50 separate transects and measure them twice a year, providing hard data on how the dunes move, fall and rise. The study would look at various adaptation strategies and assess ecological and infrastructure vulnerabilities.
The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is the project lead and hopes to assemble a team of top notch experts in the field to tackle the study. The project sponsor would be the Friends of the Dunes.
The project has broad support from a variety of agencies, but when the Board of Supervisors considered a letter of support during its meeting last week, it waffled. The board heard from The Usual Suspects who provided anecdotal evidence that they claim shows that dune restoration is somehow harmful.
These claims have been repeatedly made year after year. Do they have any merit?
One way to find out is to conduct this study, Among the transects that will be measured are sections that have been restored and sections that are thick with European beach grass, and everything in between.
The study will provide hard data to show, exactly, how these dunes should be managed to face the challenges of the future.
The Board of Supervisors should enthusiastically support the grant application, as should everyone.