New restoration technique proves promising for dune restoration

Coastal sand dunes are an integral part of natural coastal systems and historically occurred along much of southern California’s coast. They provide coastal resilience by protecting inland areas against storm waves, sea level rise, flooding, and beach erosion. Restoring degraded dunes is an inexpensive and efficient strategy for protecting areas from coastal impacts and can aid managers in future wetland restoration projects. University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant funded a study to restore the coastal dune system at Border Field State Park in San Diego. This degraded system is large and lacks buildings, making it one of the few locations in Southern California where a natural dune system can be restored. The project uses cost-efficient, green engineering methods to evaluate the effectiveness of regenerating the dunes.

Key Results:

  • Experimental techniques of using wooden shims to encourage the accumulation of sand were successful—dunes are returning to the eight-acre experimental area, along with native vegetation 
  • Techniques are now being applied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service elsewhere on the coast


Project Impacts & Application:

  • Researchers partnered with the California Dunes Coastal Network to produce an educational video
  • Researchers partnered with USC Sea Grant and the Institute of Science and Policy in Denver to publish an educational article


Principal Investigators:

  • Hany Elwany, Ph.D., Coastal Environments, Inc.
  • Frederico Scarelli, Ph.D., Coastal Environments, Inc. 
  • David Hubbard, University of California Santa Barbara



California Ocean Protection Council, 2018-2021


Additional Info: 


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