West Coast
A dive crew works in late April to remove the last few wood pilings that supported the pier at Seacliff State Beach. California State Parks has ordered an environmental study that will help determine what comes next for the beloved park in Aptos. (PK Hattis – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

CA - State Parks orders Seacliff State Beach vulnerability, adaptation study

Study will help determine what comes next for park in Aptos

APTOS — Following a carefully planned and multifaceted demolition process, the pier at Seacliff State Beach is no more and the iconic Cement Ship just off shore sits all alone for the first time in more than 90 years.

But the process for determining the future of the well-trodden state park has only just begun.

California State Parks officials tell the Sentinel that the agency has awarded a contract to an infrastructure advisory firm that will begin developing a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and Shoreline Adaptational Alternative study. According to State Parks Public Safety Superintendent for the Santa Cruz District Gabe McKenna, the project is estimated to cost $290,000 and is spearheaded by Moffatt & Nichol consulting.

“That will guide much of the future work and it will inform next steps on the outreach component with the public,” said McKenna, adding that the effort will inventory facilities, resources and parklands at Seacliff and New Brighton and will be “science driven.”

He said the process of defining the scope of the coming recovery will be balanced with “the need for public recreation, protecting parkland and creating sustainable park infrastructure in the future.”

While the contract has been awarded, McKenna could not confirm when the assessment study would officially commence.

It wasn’t just the pier that was severely damaged during a series of powerful atmospheric river storms that struck the Central Coast in early January. The campground has been closed for at least through 2023 after much of its fill material and underground infrastructure was swept away and nearly all of the accompanying seawall was destroyed. Bluffs along the inland side of the park also experienced landslides following extended periods of heavy rainfall.

Parks officials have repeatedly emphasized that whatever the future holds for the popular spot in Aptos, it must operate through the lens of global warming realities and sea level rise impacts.

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