Posted on June 13, 2022
SAN RAFAEL (BCN) — The Marin Board of Supervisors will get a briefing on Tuesday about possible projects designed to tackle the affects of climate change on two beloved coastal areas in West Marin, Tomales Bay and Stinson Beach.
In January, the Marin Community Development Agency completed the Tomales Bay Living Shoreline Feasibility Project, which evaluated a range of living shoreline measures in Tomales Bay to determine the extent to which they can provide flood protection for habitat due to rising sea levels.
The Tomales Bay shoreline is comprised of Dillon Beach, East Shore, Inverness and Point Reyes Station.
Specifically, the Tomales Bay project evaluated the feasibility of utilizing natural supports such as eelgrass, oyster reefs, wetlands and other systems that sequester carbon and help the shore adapt to climate change impacts. This “living shoreline” approach involves alterations to the shore that help it adapt to sea level rise by taking advantage of natural features that are already there. The alternative would be “hard shoreline armoring,” which can have adverse impacts on the marine and shoreline environment and can be “very difficult” to permit, according to the county.
Two areas were selected for further conceptual development for the Tomales Bay project, Cypress Grove and Martinelli Park.
Nature-based adaptation to climate change is also the subject of a Stinson Beach study funded by the Coastal Conservancy and the community development agency.
Experts are considering dune restoration and enhancement at Stinson to combat rising sea levels, also as an alternative to coastal armoring. Dune restoration could have “multiple” benefits, according to the county, including creating and maintaining habitats, providing space for recreation, and flood protection.
A vulnerability assessment of homes on or near Stinson Beach determined that between 200 to 400 households could be flooded by 2030. The entire area could “disappear” by the end of the century, the assessment found.
Both projects, if effective, would serve as pilot programs for other parts of Marin’s shores, the county said. But the county doesn’t just want to protect the shorelines for environmental reasons; it sees it as an equity issue.
“California’s beaches and shoreline areas are a source of low-cost recreation available to people of all income levels,” reads the report given to the supervisors. “Protecting them is a statewide priority.”
Marin’s coasts are also good for the economy. According to a staff report, nearly 3 million people have visited its beaches and coastal communities in the past five years.