On this project, Campbell Grading, Inc., removed 100 acres of non-native European beach grass to restore a dune ecosystem and protect endangered plants that were being crowded out by the fast-growing grass.
One plant being threatened was pink sand verbena, which is seriously endangered in California. The heart of the plant’s entire range is the 7-plus-mile segment of beach strand between Carruthers Cove and the south end of Gold Bluffs Beach. Pink sand verbena requires open, sandy beaches.
To reduce the cover of European beach grass to less than 5 percent and increase the cover of native dune mat species and open sand, we bulldozed large pits into the sand dunes. The pits were 12 feet wide by 150 to 200 feet long by 13 feet deep. We removed the European beach grass and sandy soil down to a depth of 4 feet to recover all the root systems. Then we pushed the grasses and roots into the pits and covered them with at least 4 feet of clean sand.
We put numerous measures in place to protect the dune ecosystem from significant disruption during the project. The federally threatened western snowy plover had returned to nest at Gold Bluffs Beach in 2003, after an absence of over two decades. To protect the birds, we did the work outside of their breeding period, and the wave slope was surveyed for plovers before equipment and work vehicles were brought in. The project area was also surveyed for rare plants before we began work, and plants were flagged, as were safe routes and staging areas for equipment and vehicles. We also established buffer areas to avoid disturbing watercourses.