California: Nature-Based Shoreline Adaptation Project

Southern California beach communities are facing severe, tidally induced erosion; the implementation of nature-based solutions, namely vegetated sand dunes, will reduce the impacts of sea level rise and protect the local residential communities and marine ecosystems from flooding.

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Orange County, California: $9.8 Million


Capistrano and Doheny State Beaches, in Dana Point, California, are residential beach neighborhoods. Capistrano State Beach is well known as a peaceful beach destination popular for bonfires, bike rentals and water sports. Doheny State Beach was California’s first state beach and is home to diverse marine ecosystems. Like many beaches in Southern California, both Capistrano and Doheny are threatened by erosion caused by rising tides.

Project Description

The recent increase in the number of severe storms and the elevated level of high tides have caused unprecedented beach erosion and destruction of public recreational facilities.  Loss of this shoreline due to sea level rise poses immediate risk to community lifelines and regional transportation including transportation highway, transportation-rail, safety and security. 

The proposed project will address long-term shoreline erosion and the impacts of coastal flooding and sea level rise on critical infrastructure along a 1,150-foot area of Pacific Ocean coast with construction of nature-based coastal adaptation solutions. The project includes the employment of a hybrid, vegetated dune covering a 60-foot-wide buried cobble berm system; the dune structure will raise the shoreline elevation, thus minimizing inland flooding by capturing wind-blown sand to increase the level of protection to critical infrastructure. 

Further, there are ancillary, ecological benefits to implementing a nature-based solution: the vegetated sand dune will aid in restoring habitat through the placement of native plantings that encourage wildlife to return to the dunes along with a contribution to sequestration of greenhouse gasses by adding more natural environment and not utilizing human-made materials.

Last updated August 19, 2022