The project, along with four others in the Bay Area and Southern California, is featured in a new report, Case Studies of Natural Shoreline Infrastructure in Coastal California. Much of the state’s dunescape was built over or hauled away before its value as habitat for unique species and a buffer against climate change was recognized. San Francisco’s dunes are long gone, and with them the endemic Xerces blue butterfly. Humboldt’s 32-mile stretch still shelters endangered plants like the Menzies’ wallflower and beach layia. Invasive European beachgrass not only chokes out natives; it pins the dunes in place, constraining their ability to move inland as the sea encroaches.  Led by US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Andrea Pickart, federal and state agencies, local governments, nonprofits, the Wiyot Tribe, private landowners, and other groups have teamed up to eradicate beachgrass, propagate native grasses and other species, and monitor results with foot transects through the dunes and photography from kites.  JE

In Humboldt County’s coastal dunes, a multi-agency partnership is restoring the native plant community to build resilience to sea level rise.

The project, along with four others in the Bay Area and Southern California, is featured in a new report, Case Studies of Natural Shoreline Infrastructure in Coastal California. Much of the state’s dunescape was built over or hauled away before its value as habitat for unique species and a buffer against climate change was recognized. San Francisco’s dunes are long gone, and with them the endemic Xerces blue butterfly. Humboldt’s 32-mile stretch still shelters endangered plants like the Menzies’ wallflower and beach layia. Invasive European beachgrass not only chokes out natives; it pins the dunes in place, constraining their ability to move inland as the sea encroaches.  Led by US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Andrea Pickart, federal and state agencies, local governments, nonprofits, the Wiyot Tribe, private landowners, and other groups have teamed up to eradicate beachgrass, propagate native grasses and other species, and monitor results with foot transects through the dunes and photography from kites.  JE

About the author

Joe Eaton writes about endangered and invasive species, climate and ecosystem science, environmental history, and water issues for ESTUARY. He is also "a semi-obsessive birder" whose pursuit of rarities has taken him to many of California's shores, wetlands, and sewage plants.