Known Refugio State Beach will be closed through July 4

On California’s Central Coast, devoted beachgoers are curious about the reopening date of Refugio State Beach, a family-friendly state park located roughly 20 miles north of Santa Barbara.

They would have preferred to have been playing in the waves, strolling down the coast, and setting up camp with their tents on July 4. However, the precise reopening date is still unknown in the wake of winter storms that battered the shoreline, uprooting date palms on Canary Islands, ruining a culvert system, and creating multiple sinkholes.

However, a provisional target has been established, according to a local news station. Superintendent Dena Bellman of California State Park Channel Coast District told KEYT, “We’re looking at after August 1, potentially, maybe a little earlier.”

According to Bellman, some ardent beachgoers and surfers have been going up to three miles to Refugio Beach from locations like El Capitán State Beach. Thus, even though it’s officially closed, a lifeguard is on watch.

Visitors will be shocked to learn that 24 of the famous date palms that once bordered the shore have vanished when the beach does eventually reopen. The storm knocked down ten, and damage to the root system necessitated the removal of 14. While 200 of the park’s 200 remaining date palms help prevent erosion, they face increasing atmospheric rivers brought on by climate change, which have damaged the beach and gradually shifted the high tide line closer to the date palms.

“We’re really at the forefront of issues related to sea level rise and climate change,” Bellman stated to the Santa Barbara news outlet Noozhawk. “Taking care of those is essential to having a park in the future.”

In response to SFGATE’s questions regarding the anticipated date of the park’s reopening, California State Parks’ Southern Division communications manager Jorge Moreno offered some explanation for why the process is taking so long.

To put it briefly, a strict procedure is in place for restoring public lands that might contain a wealth of cultural riches. Furthermore, the property that the culvert crosses in this instance is within the control of several entities.

The 1950s-era culvert is corroding, and Santa Barbara County Public Works and California State Parks are collaborating to repair it. Additionally, even though the storm occurred in February, work on the ground didn’t start until June 5.

According to Moreno, the multi-step procedure started months earlier with an environmental compliance study that made it possible for California State Parks to apply for permissions from government bodies. Then, he continued, State Parks had to confer with the tribal governments and send in their archaeologists to oversee the project due to the environmental evaluation.

The answer to SFGATE’s question about whether any culturally relevant findings from the environmental study necessitated taking further measures was no.

“This was not prompted by any archaeological discovery,” Moreno stated. Rather, extra safety measures were prompted by remarks made by a tribe liaison, an archaeologist, and a historian who were included in the cultural evaluation mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act.

According to Moreno, the remarks demanded that an archaeologist and a tribal representative be present when any earth disturbance activities took place.

“Best management practices are in place for this project because these public lands are rich in cultural resources,” he wrote.

Refunds have been given to guests who reserved the 66-site, $45-per-night family camping through Reserve California up until July, due to the continuing beach repairs. It is now feasible to make new reservations as of August 1.

Along with the nearby Gaviota State Park and El Capitán State Beach, California State Parks has recently started updating its general management plan.

In a news release from California State Parks, it is stated that “the need for updated plans that reflect the current realities of these three park units is driven by the need to protect natural, cultural, and recreational resources as well as the ongoing damage from severe winter storms, impending sea-level-rise and other climate change impacts, aging infrastructure, significant acquisition of new property, and high recreation demand.”

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