Thursday, May 31, 2007

Grunion Indicator of Beach Health?

SEAN DuFRENE / Union-Tribune
A grunion dug into the sand to lay her eggs. Little is understood about why the tiny fish choose certain beaches for their spawning.

Are Grunion, those near mythic fish who come up on the sandy beach to spawn at high tide in the early hour mornings, a possible indicator species for the health of west coast beaches? How sensitive are they do the beach quality? Will beach fill projects impact their ability to successfully spawn or limit their habitat? Or will it provide new beaches and increase their success?

Do steep beaches cause them problems?

If the sand is too fine or course will they impact their ability to spawn?

Will the sharp corners of angular sand imported for beach fill be a factor?

Scientists at Palomar College and Pepperdine want to know.

Read here to learn about research on these fascinating fish.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Out of Sand?

Sand banks in the Bahamas - a source of sand for Miami?

Miami Beach is running out of sand. Justified concerns about impacting local reefs have limited their options and they already lost a "sand war" when they tried to "borrow" sand off of Fort Pierce last year. They are now looking to the Bahamas as a possible source.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Senator Coburn and the Next Bridge to Nowhere

Senator Coburn and the Next Bridge to Nowhere

Imperial Beach gets sand blasted in the senate.

Poor, poor, city of Imperial Beach. With a huge chip on its civic shoulder and the inability to think strategically, engage the public in a meaningful way or balance a budget, the city is risking bankruptcy and the further erosion of its squandered reputation by pleading for up to $56 million (according to today's The San Diego Union-Tribune) to have the Army Corps of Engineers carry out a sand-dredging project to place millions of cubic yards of sand on beaches that do not require any extra sand (our beach is big). The sand in question will come from an area adjacent to a sewage outfall pipe and once used as a WWI Aviation Gunnery and bombing range. Once the sand is dredged and placed on our beaches, the first winter storm will wash it away in less than 24 hours.

The project could destroy the Tijuana Sloughs as well, a legendary big-wave spot, now listed as dead in a T-shirt marketed by the Gap.

Thankfully, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), an old-school fiscal conservative, and the man who defeated "The Bridge to Nowhere" noticed that it seemed odd to deliver millions in scarce federal monies for sand to Imperial Beach when levees in Sacramento need fixing. The senator noted that the city has contracted (to the tune of $184,000 since 2001) with Marlowe & Company to lobby elected officials for the sand money.

Here is the senator on the IB sand dredging project:

While the City of Imperial Beach has budgeted tens of thousands of dollars to hire a Washington, DC lobbying firm and to pay for cash prizes for sandcastle competitions, it expects the U.S. taxpayer to pay the price of maintaining sandy beaches. Corps priorities should be determined based upon the merits of projects, not on the political connections of Washington, DC lobbyists.

The irony here is the city of Imperial Beach is begging for the federal government to dredge and dump sand on beaches that were closed for close to 200 days last year due to pollution from Mexico. Apparently the city is asking for the sand in order to safeguard the Imperial Beach Sandcastle Competition, which last year was known locally last year as "Gangfest." The Imperial Beach Eagle & Times described the event this way:

The event has morphed from a small-town, family oriented, fun-in-the-sun beach blast, designed to draw in tourist dollars and put I.B. on the vacation map, into what many residents and business owners feel has become a carnival side show complete with gangs of scary visitors. Last year, crowds exceeding 400,000 swarmed over the beach, clogged streets and resulted in 179 felony crimes. According to law enforcement officials, a near riot situation developed on Saturday night after the fireworks show. Masses of people crowded onto side streets and a fight started. Gang members tried to incite more violence and sheriffs had to move quickly using canine units and special crowd control tactics to break up the mob. As laid-back as this very laid-back town is, tolerance for such a big, messy party has grown thin and locals are saying enough is enough.

The irony here is that Imperial Beach Mayor Jim Janney and City Manager Gray Brown scoffed at a suggestion made by Wildcoast to have beachfront property owners, the wealthiest residents of Imperial Beach, pay their fair share of the project. However, Janney and Brown have asked low-income, at risk children do their own fundraising to build a skateboard park that will give them something to do when local beaches are closed. Meanwhile Mayor Jim Janney, who campaigned on a promise of fiscal restraint and accountability, has disappeared from public view. Got mayor anyone?


City's sand-restoration plan survives attempt in Senate to put project on back burner

City's sand-restoration plan survives attempt in Senate to put project on back burner

By Janine Zúñiga
May 16, 2007

Link to story

IMPERIAL BEACH – A delay in Imperial Beach's sand-replenishment project was averted yesterday when the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to a major water-funding bill that would have put another project first.
City officials say the multimillion-dollar project would protect the beach against storm damage with periodic sand deposits for 50 years. It is included in the $14 billion Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which would authorize more than 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects around the country.

This week, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said pork projects were attached to the bill and cited the Imperial Beach sand-restoration plan.

Imperial Beach, with a population of 27,500, has struggled financially for decades. City officials are seeking to secure federal funding for the project, which is expected to cost a total of $56.2 million.

Coburn said wealthy beachfront property owners would be protected by the project and that the city would have sand for its popular sand castle competition. Radio and TV commentators and other senators quickly picked up that description.

The city's lobbyist in Washington, Greg Burns of Marlowe & Co., said: “This is not La Jolla. This is one of a few remaining working-class communities in California directly on the coast. It's a community on the rise, but this is not a city of second and third homes for rich people.”

The Senate overwhelmingly rejected Coburn's amendment, which would have postponed funding indefinitely for the city until a flood-control project in Sacramento was completed.

“That's good news,” Imperial Beach City Manager Gary Brown said. “We've been working on this for many years, and there certainly has been nothing secret about it. This is a case of the small guy being picked on for unwarranted reasons.”

Coburn, in a statement released after the vote, said Congress should focus on higher-priority projects in the water bill.

“Sand castles on Imperial Beach in San Diego won't hold back floodwaters in Sacramento,” Coburn said.

The city's sand project would be the largest of its kind on the West Coast. Senate Democrats hope to vote on the water bill this week.

Janine Zuniga: (619) 498-6636;

Click here for a link to Widcoast's Serge Dedina's thoughts on this project

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hazardous 'shells' in the sand

"A decent article in today’s Star Ledger (NJ) about the discarded munitions dredged up in Surf City. It contradicts another paper that reported people are cancelling their Surf City rentals, and real estate rentals in general in Surf City are suffering.", says Surfrider Foundation's John Weber

Hazardous 'shells' in the sand
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff

The homemade poster with the skull and crossbones was taken down, but the official sign still stands behind the fencing closing off every beach in Surf City:

Danger: Unexploded Ordnance Found. Beaches Closed Until Further Notice. Do Not Enter.

While other Jersey Shore towns are busy sprucing up the beaches for Memorial Day, the residents of Surf City stare wistfully at a brand new, replenished oceanfront that has been closed since March 5, when a beachcomber with a metal detector found a rusty fuse at the surf's edge.

Since then, cleanup crews for the Army Corps of Engineers have found more than 1,000 unexploded old munitions. They were buried in the 500,000 cubic yards of sand that was sucked up from the ocean floor and sprayed onto the shore in the first phase of the Long Beach Island beach replenishment project.

More than $2 million has already been spent recovering the old military ordnance, but project leaders warn they cannot guarantee the Surf City beaches will be reopened for the all-important start of the summer season less than three weeks away.
"We were ahead of schedule and should have been done by now, but then the nor'easter hit. There was a significant movement of sand and more ordnance emerged," said George Follett, a retired Navy bomb expert and corps munitions expert, as he gazed at crews with metal detectors scouring the sand.

"So we're going back over the entire 8,100-foot stretch of beach, to do it again," this time going into the surf, 150-feet out from the low tide mark, he added.

The 1.6-mile stretch covers every beach in Surf City and a few of the northern beaches in neighboring Ship Bottom.
Even when the cleanup is done, Follett said, that does not mean the beach will get a clean bill of health. The equipment used to detect the ordnance is effective down only to about three feet. The amount of dredged sand deposited on the beach is eight feet deep in some places.

"I am calling this 'phase one' of the cleanup. We're not sure yet what the other phases will be, but we will have to come back as beach erosion progresses," or after any significant storm, Follett said.

Read on at:

New Jersey Beaches Da Bomb!

Making a buck in LBI despite closed beaches

By DONNA WEAVER Staff Writer, (609) 978-2015
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2007

SURF CITY — One island business is putting a humorous spin on the beach closings, but some people are not amused.
Joe Muzzillo, owner of Exit 63 Wearhouse, formerly Beach Nutz, said he is making the best of a bad situation by launching a Surf City Bomb Squad fashion and accessory line. Muzzillo has sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats and stickers available with sayings that put a humorous spin on the munitions that have been found on the beaches since March.

Muzzillo is offering products with four phrases: “Surf City Bomb Squad,” “I Got Bombed on LBI,” “Surf City — ‘Da' Bomb'” and “Surf City — Our Beaches Will Blow You Away.”

Muzzillio said he even had a worker who was scanning the beach come to his store to purchase a T-shirt.
“I'm almost trying to make light of the situation. We'll keep the designs real conservative up until Memorial Day, but if the beaches aren't open I have some more serious designs,” Muzzillo said. “I hate that I'm doing it, but I'm in the T-shirt business and I need to do something to make up for the money I'm going to lose.”

But Rick Reynolds, executive director of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce is not laughing. Muzzillo said Monday he received a call last week from Reynolds, discouraging the sale of the items.

“I think that to a certain degree this is something that has the potential to be misconstrued. It can be a fun, frivolous type of thing, but it may not be seen that way by everyone else who has a stake in the beaches,” Reynolds said Tuesday evening.
The discovery of military munitions on the beaches in March contributed to the delay of the beach-replenishment project's completion in Surf City. Additional beaches in Ship Bottom, which were part of the area where the project tapered off, were closed earlier last month.

So far 1,044 munitions have been found on Surf City and Ship Bottom beaches, Khaalid Walls, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman, said Tuesday.

“We're going to submit our recommendations to the DEP next week, and it will be a linear process and we'll come to a decision jointly to open the beaches,” Walls said.

Read more at: