Friday, December 20, 2013

Beach erosion and federal funding

Our coastal neighbor, Port Hueneme, has been in the news a lot this year due to beach erosion which is threatening streets and infrastructure built along the shoreline.  Over the summer the city began reinforcing the seawall that protects the road, but didn't have money to complete the project.  The California Coastal Conservancy recently approved $2M for additional construction. The aerial photo below shows the extension of the rocks along the beach toward the pier.

The aerial photos below from show the loss of sand from 2010 to 2013:

This dramatic erosion is the direct result of federal budget cuts which eliminated funding for the required biannual harbor dredging.   Harbor jetties block the constant movement of sand down the coast, so  regular dredging is required to keep the harbor mouth open and bypass sand.  Hueneme beach is entirely dependent on sand that is dredged from Channel Islands harbor.

This aerial overview shows the sand that has collected in the trap created by the offshore breakwater at Channel Islands harbor. If this maintenance is not completed beaches "downstream" are starved of sand and rapidly disappear.

Ventura Harbor has been suffering the same problem.  This photo was taken while the dredge was operating in February 2013.

These photos show how much sand has built up in the Ventura Harbor sand trap.

aerial overview of Ventura Harbor shows sand buildup between north jetty and breakwater 

After nearly a year of meetings and conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers the Ventura Harbor received $2.5 million of the $5.9 million it needs to dredge. That money only paid for about 235,000 cubic yards in 2013, or less than half the 600,000 cubic yards sand required annually to keep sand moving down the coast.

The budget crisis prompted the Ventura Port District to consider an offer to sell sand to Broad Beach in Malibu, a beach that eroded in response to removal of natural sand dunes.  But BEACON director Brian Brennan said "The erosion agency isn’t about to just hand over the Ventura Harbor sand, because it is vital to protecting properties on coastlines in Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Those beaches need to be replenished with sand annually." (see Ventura Harbor's excess sand may be treasure for Malibu residents)

According to a recent Port Commission newsletter, Ventura Harbor anticipates about $3.7 million in federal funding, enough to dredge up to 400,000 cubic yards in February or March.  Because this is still partial funding it will result in accumulation of another 200,000 yards to the ongoing buildup in the sand trap and downcoast deficit.

This article in the VCStar sums it up:

The problem is Congress has not allocated enough money to replenish the badly eroded beach with more sand, something the U.S. government is obligated to do.
That obligation was made decades ago when the Port of Hueneme was built. The port project interrupted the normal flow of sand down the coast that had replenished not only Hueneme Beach but many other local beaches as sand washed away.
Hueneme Beach is supposed to be replenished with sand every two years through dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The sand is taken from a sand trap located at the mouth of Channel Islands Harbor.
In the most recent dredging, the corps was unable to pump the 2.5 million cubic yards of sand required by the beaches because of what federal officials called budget restraints.
Port Hueneme Mayor Ellis Green said...Port Hueneme’s lack of sand “is a man-made problem,” 
“The solution to this problem is simple,” he said. “The federal government needs to fulfill its obligation and pump the sand that is now in the sand trap to our beaches.”
More on this blog:

In the News:

Port Hueneme faces erosion threat from sand shortage
Sunday, February 3, 2013

Port Hueneme plans to lobby Congress for more sand

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ventura Harbor's excess sand may be treasure for Malibu residents

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Obama budget includes money for Ventura Harbor dredging

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Port Hueneme officials seek help restoring beach

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Port Hueneme to take emergency measures to protect shoreline

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Port Hueneme beach erosion could cost city taxpayers millions of dollars

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Port Hueneme council moves forward on beach erosion effort

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crew to put boulders at Hueneme Beach to ward off erosion

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rep. Julia Brownley: Budget dysfunction washes beach out to sea

Saturday, July 20, 2013

John K. Flynn: County should take the lead in abating beach erosion

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Senate panel supports $2 million to fix Port Hueneme's 'dire' beach emergency

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Julia Brownley: In our time of need, a bipartisan call to action

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Port Hueneme Pier appears safe from erosion — for now

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brownley attaches amendments to water bill to help Port Hueneme

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Port Hueneme receives gift of sand from Swedish family
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

High tides during solar eclipse erode more sand in Port Hueneme

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Port Hueneme beach erosion slows

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, November 19, 2013

BMW signs multimillion-dollar deal with Port of Hueneme
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Port Hueneme waiting for $2 million to build sea wall to combat erosion

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

backcountry hazard - ticks and lyme disease

Mountain biking Middle Lion Trail, Sespe Creek watershed
 - Mountain Bike Action Magazine Nov 2013

Our area has some amazing backcountry.  So when the surf is flat, there's still lots of things to do.  I have hiked and biked the local trails for decades, and generally spent a lot of time outdoors.  Apart from the usual cuts and bruises (and a mild concussion), I've always stayed fairly safe. No rattlesnake, scorpion, or shark bites.  But last April, a ride on the trail pictured above changed my life.

Hard to imagine something so tiny has the potential
 to wreak so much havoc
Over the years I must have been bitten by hundreds of ticks.  But this time I got a bad one.  I'd always heard of Lyme Disease, and was aware of the potential hazard from ticks.  If caught soon, ticks can be removed fairly easily.  But left on the body for too long, a tick will embed itself under the skin to feed on your blood.  Along with anticoagulants and anesthetics, it can inject a potentially life threatening bacteria into your body - a spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochete) called Borrelia burfgdorferi.

Common on the East Coast of the United States, Lyme Disease is becoming more prevalent in our area.       Some attribute this spread to our intrusion on natural processes and climate change.  It seems everyone I talk to knows someone affected by it.  Unfortunately mistreatment and misdiagnosis is the norm, which can lead to long term disability and even death.

I will be ok, but it will take many months to recover.  Although my initial diagnosis and treatment was inadequate, I am now under the care of  a LLMD (Lyme Literate MD.)   But this was only because I knew exactly what happened and received good referrals.  Those less fortunate endure years of misdiagnosis and an endless misery that I would wish on nobody.

According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS):
  • Up to fifty percent of ticks in Lyme-endemic areas are infected with Lyme or other tick-borne diseases. With odds like that, if you have proof or a high suspicion that you've been bitten by a tick, taking a "wait and see" approach to deciding whether to treat the disease has risks. The onset of Lyme disease symptoms can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other illnesses. Once symptoms are more evident the disease may have already entered the central nervous system, and could be hard to cure. This is one case in which an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Research shows that Lyme is present throughout California, as illustrated in this map.

Download the data here:

As early as 1999, LA County vector control documented Lyme carrying ticks in the Santa Monica mountains recreation area.  More recently, a 2013 press release alerted the public that Lyme Disease-Carrying Ticks Found Lurking in New Areas in Santa Monica Mountains.

Who knows why Ventura County and local doctors are still in denial?

I post this information so people will be aware that Lyme Disease is a serious problem in Southern California, and that although your general practitioner may not be 'lyme literate,' there are doctors who can help.


The film "Under Our Skin" exposes the horrors of Lyme and the controversy and conflicts surrounding the disease.  The full feature is here:

More info:

Tips to Avoid Lyme Disease:

Under Our Skin Movie:

TOUCHED BY LYME: Ski champ shares her “LymeLight” in new film - See more at:

The Rise of the Tick, OUTSIDE MAGAZINE, JUNE 2013

Coastal Resilience - Ventura County

The Nature Conservancy is the lead in a study to assess potential changes to our coastline with future sea level rise and other climate change effects.

According to the website, The Nature Conservancy is leading Coastal Resilience Ventura - a partnership to provide science and decision-support tools to aid conservation and planning projects and policymaking to address conditions brought about by climate change.  The primary goals of Coastal Resilience Ventura are assessing the vulnerabilities of human and natural resources, and identifying solutions that help nature help people.

The recent report outlines a Catalogue of Local Sea Level Rise Planning Tools.  Key recommendations are:

  • Sea Level Rise should be included in General Plan
  • Sea Level Rise in should be included Local Coastal Program (LCP) Update
  • Sea Level Rise in should be included Zoning Code Updates
  • Sand Dune and Wetlands as Barriers and Buffers
  • Flexible Options: Managed retreats, Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), and project siting and design considering sea level rise

Another product of this project is a web mapping tool to help illustrate potential inundation areas from sea  level, tides, waves, and river flooding.

More info: