On May 18th, 2020, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced that the Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline project in Encinitas won the top honor for the 2020 Best Restored Beach Award. By utilizing recovered and imported rock materials, dredged sand from the San Elijo Lagoon inlet and locally sourced coastal plants, this dune creation project provides an ecological facelift that increases biodiversity with the added benefit of protecting Coast Highway 101 from ocean surges.
The Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline project is the first Southern California project to test this unique nature-based solution to provide beach erosion and flood protection of a vulnerable coastal asset. Serving as a pilot project, the engineering and project design takes an innovative approach to shoreline protection by mimicking beach-dune systems which build-up and erode with the seasons, providing a natural buffer for the critical infrastructure behind them.
The Living Shoreline is a project led by the City of Encinitas and the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC). The SCC was not only the main funder of the project but has been a partner through each phase of the project, including planning, construction, and on-going monitoring. The project was collaboratively designed by GHD and Moffat & Nichol, with significant contributions from partnerships with the Nature Collective (formerly known as the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy), University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), California State Parks, the California Coastal Commission, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). These strong partnerships between public agencies, nonprofits, academia, and private entities made this project a success.
Monitoring and maintenance of these coastal dunes will be ongoing for the first five years, as the Nature Collective and doctoral students and researchers at UCLA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California – San Diego investigate the half-mile site for growth and establishment of native dune plants, wildlife use, physical beach changes, and dune system structure sustainability. These results will inform design of other nature-based coastal resilience projects throughout the state.
Funding for the $2.5 million Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline project came from the State Coastal Conservancy, the Ocean Protection Council, the USFWS and the San Diego Association of Governments.