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Here’s what Santa Monica Beach will look like after it’s landscaped to resist rising sea levels

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Native plants will help prevent beach erosion

Rendering showing people enjoying restoration area Renderings by Mia Lehrer + Associates, courtesy The Bay Foundation

Santa Monica Beach is going to look a little different soon, thanks to a beach restoration project that will partially enclose and re-landscape about three acres of sand with native vegetation.

The idea is to foster the growth of beach dunes, which accumulate sediment and help to prevent erosion. The dunes are meant to alleviate the effects of rising sea levels, which could soon threaten Santa Monica’s coast, according to The Bay Foundation, which is partnering with the city of Santa Monica on the project.

It’s accompanied by a new virtual reality experience set up on the Santa Monica Pier that illustrates how much the city’s shoreline could recede over the next century or so.

Sand verbena
Jon Sullivan | Flickr creative commons
Beach evening primrose
squamatologist | Flickr creative commons

In a press release, The Bay Foundation Executive Director Tom Ford (not that Tom Ford) said the project is about finding sustainable ways to protect the area’s coastline. “In essence we’re using Mother Nature to protect us from Mother Nature by providing Mother Nature with some space on our urban beach,” he noted.

Of course, any major changes to the beach are bound to rile some local residents (the question “Will this project limit my ocean view?” tellingly appears on the project’s FAQ page). But The Bay Foundation has been touting the restoration as environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing.

The new plantings will include flowering sand verbena and beach evening primrose, making the new section of the beach—about a half-mile north of the pier—a little more scenic, if not ideal for sunbathing or volleyball. Meanwhile, the foundation says the vegetation will also help to attract local bird species that might not have frequented the area before.

Fenced off on three sides, the restoration area includes a path running through the middle that will allow curious beachgoers to get an up-close view of the project. Work is set to begin on the landscaping this month, and should only take about three weeks.

Restoration area seen from above