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SHIFTING SANDS | Multidisciplinary approach needed to combat beach erosion on the Central Coast

Posted on July 13, 2022

Patsch has devoted her life to issues related to beaches and coastal erosion as an associate professor of environmental science and resource management at California State University, Channel Islands.

“The idea of managing sand as a resource is really global, and there should be a bright spotlight on it because it is a limited resource,” she said.

Kiki Patsch with her daughter doing beach monitoring last month. Photo submitted

Patsch also serves as co-chair on a science advisory committee to a local government agency called BEACON, the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment. The joint-powers agency founded in 1986 includes leaders from county governments in Ventura and Santa Barbara as well as representatives from the cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Two of the biggest projects BEACON is currently involved in have been underway for decades. One is the half-completed project at Ventura’s Surfers Point to relocate an eroding bike path known as a “managed retreat.” The other involves efforts to tear down Matilija Dam near Ojai, which should one day allow trapped sediment to flow to the coast and become sand.


During a June 23 Ventura Sand Summit, organized by BEACON, Patsch described the complexities and challenges of managing constantly shifting sand as waves and currents push it down the coastline. She explained that the sand along local beaches moves along what’s known as a “littoral cell” which starts at the Santa Maria River, flows around Point Conception, then goes through the dredging operations of local harbors before much of the sand disappears into a giant marine canyon off Point Mugu.

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