California Town Retreats From Rising Sea

Ventura spends $4.5M on 'managed retreat' operation
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2011 2:23 AM CST
Ventura, Calif. is moving facilities away from rising waters in a "managed retreat," designed to reserve its popular coastline.    (AP Photo/Richard Quinn)

(Newser) – The California coastal town of Ventura is spending $4.5 million dollars on its popular Surfers Point to "back off" from increasing coastal erosion and rising water levels—a fate that awaits much of the US coastline, reports the Los Angeles Times. The project involves ripping out a seaside bike path, tearing down a parking lot, and putting up new asphalt 65 feet further inland. "Managed retreat is one of the things that we're going to have in our quiver to deal with sea-level rise and increasing storms," said the head of a group funding the project.

Ocean levels have risen about 8 inches in the last century, and are projected to rise as much as 55 inches by the end of the next, and gobble up 41 square miles of California coast, according to a 2009 report. Building sea walls and buffers—already completed along some 10% of the California coast—can worsen the effects of waves and weather, stripping away beaches. A managed retreat is designed to preserve beaches and seasides. "The challenge is we have built most of our civilization within a few feet of sea level or right at the edge," said a geologist. "It's either going to be managed or unmanaged, but it's going to be retreat."

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