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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 6:39 am | Fair 52º


Captain’s Log: A Solution to Widen Goleta Beach and Keep Soft Sand

Goleta Beach County Park has a severe case of missing sand and the county of Santa Barbara is in desperate search for a solution that can save the beach for the million and a half estimated park visitors.

Children and other beach-goers need soft sand under their feet and blankets during the day and grunion need wide beaches to spawn at night.

The county Parks Commission held a special public meeting to listen to the hired expert and take public input on solutions.

The expert, Dan Gira, presented managed-retreat options, which basically means removing resources for people, substantial facilities for agencies, such as power equipment, the vault and pipe for the sewage treatment facility, and the rock revetment that protects the grassy area of the park.

Then, let the sea have it all and walk away.

A major concern with managed retreat is that Caltrans and UCSB probably will not allow Hwy. 217 to be destroyed by the sea, so they may well build a massive breakwater to protect the road.

That would not likely be the kind of park any of us would want. The costs of managed retreat would be staggering, considering all the work needed to remove structures and utility facilities and rebuild them further inland.

I took a turn at the podium as a member of the public with a business at Goleta Beach County Park (my bait and tackle shop on the pier). I spoke in favor of a proposal put forward to the county by Chris Goldblatt of Fish Reef Project.

Goldblatt also spoke at the podium and a member of Friends of Goleta Beach County Park spoke in support of the proposal. They had earlier written a letter of support for the concept.

The Fish Reef Project proposal is to build a submerged sand accretion reef in fairly shallow water off the beach in Goleta Bay and build it with reef balls, which look something like a big Whiffle ball (with holes) cut in half.

What a submerged sand accretion reef can do is pure magic for the beach.

Waves hitting the reef lose their power because the offset holes in the reef balls turn the wave energy on itself. The top of the wave makes it across the reef so that beach-goers still get gently lapping waves to enjoy and listen to.

Sand moves shore-ward through the holes and over the top of the reef balls to replenish sand and widen the beach.

Without powerful surging waves reflecting off of the rock revetment at the top of the beach, sand is not scoured away. This primarily one-way movement of sand allows the beach to widen so we all have plenty of soft sand beach to enjoy.

Submerged reef balls will also serve as holdfasts for kelp growth and between the critter-friendly design of reef balls and the new growth of kelp, impressive biomass will be created and the ecosystem will be able to provide for so much more oceanic life.

I like the concept of creating local and world food security from the sea.

The rock revetment at the top, or back, of the beach can be covered over with sand and left to serve as the last bastion of protection from those once-in-a-lifetime storms that pack waves big enough to break over the reef with force left over.

The fiscal beauty and benefit to the public of this submerged sand accretion reef solution is that no structures or facilities need to be removed and the beach can just become a better place for all of us.

Ideally, this project will become a public/private partnership that allows individuals and organizations to donate funds to help save Goleta Beach County Park.

The county has expended a lot of money over time on solutions that didn’t work out and could really use some assistance from helpful community members.

Another thing I’m doing to help Fish Reef Project is putting together an advisory board to consider matters relating to reefing, habitat, biomass and environmental issues pertaining to the various worldwide projects of Fish Reef Project and provide advice to the FRP Board of Directors.

To delve meaningfully into any given agenda item, I believe it is important to have a wide spectrum of diverse perspectives represented.

Toward that end I've extended invitations to take an advisory board seat to environmental organizations such as Surfrider Foundation, Channel Keepers and others.

Other organizations I expect to have representatives from are education (K-12), higher education, marine biology, recreational diving, recreational fishing and commercial fishing. This will be a robust advisory board.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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