Ambitious Sonoma Coast project paves way for ‘managed retreat’

By Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times, November 27, 2020

“With the realities of climate change looming ever closer, California transportation officials are now moving a key stretch of highway more than 350 feet inland — one of the first major efforts by the state to relocate, or ‘manage retreat,’ critical infrastructure far enough from the coast to make room for the next 100 years of sea level rise.

“At least $8 billion in property could be underwater by 2050, according to recent legislative reports, with an additional $10 billion at risk during high tides. Heavier storms and more intense cycles of El Niño could make things even worse.

“The painful reimagining of Gleason Beach [a few winding turns past Bodega Bay] offers a glimpse into the future for other communities now clashing over the costs and compromises of living by the sea. At the heart of this $73-million project is a reckoning over what is worth saving — and what is worth sacrificing — and whether it’s possible to redesign a treasured landscape so that it survives into the future.

“‘You don’t have many choices when it comes to sea-level rise … whichever way you choose, you’re going to have some kind of impact,” Caltrans district division chief of environmental planning and engineering Stefan Galvez-Abadia said. ‘These are the difficult decisions that we will all have to make as a region, as a community, for generations to come.’”

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