Grants fund road design, Stinson sea-level planning

03/10/2021

Two projects aimed at addressing rising seas received a welcome infusion of funds from the California Ocean Protection Council in February. Marin County Parks received the $339,000 necessary to finish the design for a project started in 2014 to restore the wetland and creek flow at the north end of the Bolinas Lagoon and raise a portion of the adjacent roadway to prevent flooding. Further south, the Marin County Community Development Agency was awarded $396,000 to pursue a sea-level rise adaptation planning project in Stinson Beach. Both projects are longstanding priorities. Veronica Pearson, the project manager for the lagoon initiative, said her department is developing plans to take out the stretch of road connecting Highway 1 and the Olema-Bolinas Road and reconfigure the intersection; the project seeks to improve the hydrologic processes and connectivity of the lagoon and enhance fish passage in Lewis Gulch Creek, which floods the roads in rainy months. The project will also raise a small stretch of the Olema-Bolinas Road and add a bridge and a new culvert so creek water can flow underneath it into the lagoon. The project in Stinson Beach is exploratory. The county identified the village as a priority area for sea-level rise mitigation in a 2018 adaptation report. The document outlined a wide range of approaches, including managed retreat, elevating roads and homes, building up dunes and revetments and creating a new community wastewater system. The new funds will help update an infrastructure assessment from 2016, develop a timeline and cost for adaptation endeavors and produce a visitation and use survey. Heather Dennis, the project manager, said the effort will serve as a pilot project for the other coastal towns. Throughout West Marin, around 1,300 parcels, 1,000 buildings, 20 miles of roads, 1,800 acres of wetlands and numerous other assets could be exposed to sea-level rise and storms by 2100; by that time, the state now projects there could be 10 feet of sea-level rise. Visitor access remains a key focus for the county, and the visitation survey will provide an avenue for public input. “Because Stinson Beach provides a low-cost recreation option and a relief valve for extreme heat events, planners will reach out to disadvantaged residents in Marin and throughout the Bay Area who use the beach as well as all other interested parties,” a county release stated.