Restoring Malibu beaches, one volunteer at a time

To close out Earth Day celebrations, around 50 volunteers, some from Malibu Middle and High schools, volunteered on Saturday, April 30, for a Malibu Living Shoreline Project (MLSP) organized by the Bay Foundation Dume Restoration, which aims to restore approximately three acres of sandy beach and dune habitat at Zuma Beach and Point Dume Beach. 

This project evaluates living restored shorelines with an approach to increase coastal resiliency. Volunteers assisted with site maintenance by removing non-native vegetation, but also learned about the benefits of dune restoration and how it improves habitat. With hands-on learning, volunteers were able to identify both non-native and native plants.

The nonprofit organization, Bay Foundation, and project partners hosted a morning for volunteers to remove non-native plants and help maintain coastal beaches.

“This is our first event here at Point Dume so we’re really excited to have the community out,” Bay Foundation Watershed Program Coordinator Sara Cuadra said. “We had about 50 folks come out here today and they were really excited to learn about the work that we were doing here, it was pretty great.”

Cuadra said the projects are multi-benefit, which helps improve the coastal resiliency of beaches and by restoring the shoreline, it helps sand act as a buffer towards sea-level rise and coastal erosion.

“I’m very passionate about habitat restoration, I love the native vegetation and what it does to provide habitat for wildlife,” Cuadra said.

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Cuadra said they weren’t able to host volunteer events due to the pandemic but are excited to start organizing them again. 

Malibu Middle and High School students volunteered for extra credit, but were also interested in learning more about their Malibu beaches.

Malibu High and Middle School Community Service Coordinator Valerie Azariam helped oversee students who volunteered at the event.

“We’re here for the program but we don’t have to twist their arm; they understand by themselves what is good to do and they believe in the environment,” Azariam said. “These kids are really good.”

The students themselves appreciated the opportunity to help.

“I learned about the invasive species entering Malibu and destroying our beaches,” Malibu Middle School student Oreporat said. “I feel really good [about volunteering] it was fun and I was able to do it with friends.”

On March 23, the nonprofit, in coordination with the City of Malibu, organized a student restoration event at Zuma Beach, with students and faculty from Santa Monica High School’s Project-Based Learning Pathway program for the Malibu Living Shoreline Project. 

The group of students collectively removed 12 bags of non-native plants, including four species: sea rocket (Cakile maritima), iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis), carnation spurge (Euhporbia terracina) and bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). Councilmember Steve Uhring also joined the student restoration event. 

Malibu Senior Environmental Sustainability Analyst Christine Shen said the turnout was great with volunteers from Malibu but also from mid-city and North Hollywood.

“We’re still figuring out how many tons or bags of non-native species that were removed but I can tell that it was a lot, just because of the number of hands we had here,” Shen said. “I’m glad the turnout was great.”

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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