McGrath State Beach

McGrath Beach Shoreline

On International Coastal Cleanup Day, I went to McGrath State Beach in Ventura, CA. Because I was there to pick up trash and improve the quality of the beach, I decided to look at the beach through a restoration lens. The International Union for Conservation of Nature defines ecological restoration as the “process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed”. Looking out from the parking lot, I was able to immediately identify several factors that may be degrading or damaging this beach. There is a power plant down the street, there are agricultural fields surrounding the area, there is urban development close by, it is adjacent to the harbor, and the campsite area is nearly covered in green lawn-style grasses. These things could all be considered stressors to the beach– causing pollution, sediment disruption, and an abundance of invasive species. Luckily, today we were able to address one of these problems and reduce the amount of trash on the beach! This decreased the pollution, increased the aesthetic value, and insured that those pieces of trash didn’t end up in the stomach of a Western Gull or degrading into innumerable tiny pieces. A majority of what I collected was either very small or small enough to be considered micro-debris (>2.5cm). These small pieces of trash are especially dangerous to wildlife and the environment, because they can be mistaken for food, they are difficult to remove, and they can sorb with chemicals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). I also found an abundance of plastic bottle caps. In total, I picked up over 3 pounds of trash.  Although it is just one factor of one stressor on one beach, we helped make a difference and we participated in ecological restoration! The environment is a big interconnected web of relationships, so doing good in one area can strengthen the web and make impacts on the whole system. There are other ecological restoration efforts going on at McGrath State Beach, like fences around the dune area which assist in the restoration of dune habitat, which is critical to the endangered Snowy Plover. I am hopeful that by taking this small action on Coastal Cleanup Day, we were able to improve and help support the dune and Snowy Plover restoration efforts.Overall, we had a great day and enjoyed getting involved!

One thought on “McGrath State Beach

  1. Ariana McLaughlin says:

    It’s wonderful that you were able to participate in the Coastal Cleanup Day and help reduce the amount of trash and micro plastics that littered the beach! However, it’s no surprise that so much trash and broken down plastic was found considering how close McGrath State Beach is to several disruptive and potentially dangerous structures that could degrade the beach and it’s ecology.

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