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New report details how climate change is affecting CA state parks and offers solutions

Montana De Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo County, CA.
Amanda Wernik
Montana De Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo County, CA.

A new state report on climate change and how it's affecting parks, like Montana De Oro, has just been released. It also looks into how to implement solutions.

Sea level rise, erosion and wildfires are some of the ways that climate change is affecting our local state parks, according to the California State Parks Foundation’s report.

Rachel Norton, the Executive Director of the Foundation says it's now time to adapt.

“We will lose 75% of the coastline beaches by 2100. So, this is a state parks issue because state parks manage a quarter of the coastline as state beaches. Already in the big storm events that we've had the last few winters, we are seeing a lot more coastal erosion,” Norton said.

Norton said cities along the California coast are trying to provide solutions for erosion and sea level rise, by building sea walls. But, she said those structures aren’t meant to last a long time.

“People have constructed like hard scape, you know, like stone walls and other things to keep the waves back and protect houses and properties on the coast. But the problem is, is that just pushes that energy up and down the side of the walls,” Norton said.

Norton said people should be looking towards more nature based solutions, like living shorelines. Living shorelines are coastal edges made of plants, sand or rock and grow over time.

She said the concrete seawall impedes the growth of plants and animals.

“That, you know, restores habitat and restores the shoreline so that it has the ability to absorb some of the force of incoming waves,” Norton said.

Though these solutions have been suggested for years, Norton said the biggest hurdle to implementing these ideas has been planning and funding.

You can view the report here.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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