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Managed Retreat: When The Ocean Meets The Asphalt

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Rising ocean levels and increased erosion are forcing officials in Ventura to move facilities inland, in an effort that may serve as an example for many of California's coastal communities. "As the coastline creeps inland, scouring sand from beaches or eating away at coastal bluffs, landowners will increasingly be forced to decide whether to spend vast sums of money fortifying the shore or give up and step back," reports the L.A. TImes.

At Surfers Point in Ventura construction crews are replacing a 120-space parking lot and aged bike path with sand and cobblestones. Notes the L.A. Times, "By pushing the asphalt 65 feet inland, the project is expected to give the wave-ravaged point 50 more years of life." The $4.5-million Ventura project could serve as a model for other threatened coastal sites, say state officials.

This practice of "managed retreat," is one of the strategies being employed to deal with rising sea-levels and storms. "Beach-armoring projects" like artificial barriers and sea walls have been criticized by environmentalists and coastal regulators for permanently altering wave patterns and for stripping away sand causing beaches to disappear. Sea levels have risen approximately 8 inches in the past 100 years and experts expect swells to increase as climate change warms the ocean. Notes the L.A. Times, "In California, the sea is projected to rise as much as 55 inches by the end of the century and gobble up 41 square miles of coastal land, according to a 2009 state-commissioned report by the Pacific Institute."