Cleaning Up Our Beaches with Solution-Based Projects

Goleta Beach July 2018
Goleta Beach July 2018

By Capt. David Bacon

In March of 2017 I wrote a Noozhawk column about Chris Goldblatt, Founder of Fish Reef Project ( finding a leaking old oil well head on Summerland Beach after winter storms had taken away much of the sand. He wisely brought in the local news teams, authorities were contacted, who found funds available for such work and subsequently re-capped the old well.

That old leaky well head had been putting some bad crude into the sands of the beach and leaching into nearshore waters for a very long time. This created unhealthy conditions for people visiting the beach and created toxic habitat for the critters and plants nearshore. It was a horrible environmental problem and thank heavens it is cleaned up. Well, let’s thank the State, too and hope that funds which are available for other wellhead capping projects are not diverted.

Now, better than a year later, Goldblatt who lives nearby, reported that the beach is much cleaner and without the heavy tar deposits that had been there for so long. With cleaner beaches and water, lots of people are again enjoying the pretty beach area. This is a happy story and one we can hope will replay each time a leaking old well head is found by a concerned citizen who takes the time to make it known.

This is the kind of solution-based project I believe in. To be honest, I’m tired of blaming humans for everything and then the solution being shut down areas on land or sea or take rights and freedoms away from us. I feel fiercely about our freedoms and about access to land and seas for recreational purposes including fishing or hunting for the family table. That Summerland Beach area is now a much improved surf fishing spot.

What happened on that Summerland beach was a better way of doing things. Yes, of course humans were responsible for the mess. But instead of a dark solution that cost us access or freedoms, we got a solution-based project that cleaned up and area and we can all continue to enjoy it as we always have.

Solution-based projects are possible in a great many places to solve problems or just make things better. One perfect example is a proposal for a kelp-restoration reef in Goleta Bay. The proposed reef will be made of specially-designed and ocean-friendly reef units which provide homes for critters and holdfast areas for kelp is designed to bring back a luscious kelp bed that was once there and to protect Goleta Beach and aid with natural sand restoration and retention.

This ideal solution-based project has support of the community and municipalities, has a lead agency and is just in need of funding for the permitting process with the State. I encourage anyone who wants to support a project with environmental and recreational benefits to fund this permitting process through Fish Reef Project.