Mar 1, 2011
FIGHT THE POWER!!! SAVE THE LAGOON FROM GOONS!
By ANDY LYON
I am a surfer who has been in the waves of Surfrider Beach for as long as I can remember. And I’m telling you we need a way to keep Malibu Lagoon healthy. This is not just about The Perfect Wave. For the sake of the lagoon, the beach and the waves, we need to determine how breaching the lagoon can best maintain the coastline. Bulldozers play no part in that. Everything works together.
Based on years of experience I know that with the right weather it can be possible for good waves to break almost all year long. But only if the lagoon is maintained in as natural a state as possible so that when it gets too full, it breaches.
When the lagoon breaches, all kinds of accumulated sediment and rocks wash down from the hills out into the ocean. All this material then settles into the cracks and along the rocks and crevices just offshore and it smoothes out the ocean bottom. This pushes Third Point out deeper into the ocean and it creates a longer, smoother wave. If the waves were flatter before, they get higher and better when this happens. And once the over-full lagoon breaches, the waves are great for quite a while because the ocean has a whole new bottom.
Before the 1983 project, when there was less water in Malibu Creek, this happened in the winter during heavy storms. Lately, though, there has been so much development in the Santa Monica Mountains that Malibu Creek flows constantly so the lagoon gets too full too fast. The whole natural schedule is thrown off, and because the water doesn’t flow only where you can see it, but also below the surface of the ground, the equilibrium gets thrown off. The ocean bottom needs to be replenished more often, and the lagoon gets too full.
Today, breaching needs to occur when the lagoon’s water level reaches a certain point, and not only when there are winter storms. But you don’t need bulldozers for that.
It used to happen by itself. Sometime it still does. Since the 1983 restoration, that has not been happening reliably or predictably. When the lagoon is too full, a kid with a pail and a spade can make it breach. If you tripl
eover the right rock you can set off a breach. Or you can just kick a little channel opening with your foot. It doesn’t take much, and certainly not bulldozers
When the lagoon gets too full, the animals in the lagoon need a breach just as much as the surfers do because their habitat does need to be cleaned out each year as nature intended. Without a breach there is too much of a build up of water in the estuary. If the water level rises too high, many of their homes get flooded.
But worse than that, the lagoon may breach unnaturally and artificially not at the Western end, but down at the East end of the lagoon. And that is the worst thing that can happen because of three things:
1.1)The sediment does not wash out to where the Third Point wave is, but instead, it gets washed away forever. So all that sand is lost from Surfrider Beach.
2.2)The wave quality flattens out, and this erodes the beach into a much more narrow strip because the sand that does get pulled out to sea does not get pushed back to shore as efficiently. Of course this threatens homes in the area because the sea comes closer and closer to their houses.
3.3)There is no tidal backwash. The breach there creates a curved, thin channel. The sea water cannot flow upstream through the narrow channel, so the lagoon gets trained to breach in the wrong place. This creates an ongoing bad situation for the waves and also for the wildlife. In addition, the State Park property which includes the historical Adamson House is threatened by increasing erosion, so you would think State Parks would actually want to understand why this is happening and protect their property.
Surfers who are at Malibu Lagoon several times a week already know that the way to save the environment at Malibu Lagoon also turns out to be the way to protect the wave at Third Point. I know because I am at the lagoon and at Surfrider Beach so often that I practically live there. I have a very close – almost organic — relationship with the sand, the sea, and the waters of the creek. I have been out there in the waves since I was a little kid and while I am not a scientist, since the 1960s I have seen for myself how changes in the lagoon affect the waves and how changes in the waves affect the lagoon. I love Surfrider, the ocean, Third Point and the lagoon and I want what is best for the whole area.
Save the wave?
Third Point was badly damaged after the 1983 lagoon restoration. Third Point
Wave is the wave that made Malibu’s Surfrider Beach so famous. At the very optimum, when the wave is as good as it gets, you can theoretically catch a wave just to the west of the lagoon, and keep riding through the Second and First Points and come out almost all the way to the Pier. I’ve actually done that a few times.
But The State Park’s plan leaders and their biologists will tell you that the 1983 restoration did not affect the waves. Most of them don’t surf, and when they try to convince you of that they just prove they were not here then and do not know what they are talking about. The whole ridiculous and unbelievable point is that there is nothing in their so-called Restoration and Enhancement plan that addresses the Third Point wave. They forgot to study the wave!
Can you believe that after more than five years of study, and with more than $8 million of state money involved in a plan to bulldoze the lagoon, no hydrologists or oceanographers were consulted about the impact of this plan on the famous Surfider waves? And they did not even even ask us, the surfers who know the waves first hand, how all this would affect the waves.
If you knew this area as I do, you would see it is very important that we preservation into the Save Malibu Lagoon environmental plan. That is the plan that will work because it does not require use of bulldozers at the lagoon — which is what State Parks crews will do this summer if they are not stopped. Bulldozers would completely destroy any chance of having a more normal interaction between the tides, the waves, and the shore.
Everything works together. Saving the wave will put the ocean back in sync with the creek and the lagoon.
When you are at Surfrider Beach as often as I am, you are aware of details in the lives of animals and plants. You see that even though there are seasonal and yearly fluctuations due to storms, winds, and currents, when everything is insync the animals have the stable habitat conditions that they need to live. Many birds have made the lagoon their permanent homes, along with those who migrate through the lagoon year after year. They have grown comfortable there over the last 25 years or so and while some lagoon improvement is still needed, there is no reason why anything as drastic as is needed. Although, the Malibu surfers would like to be able to gently retrain the lagoon when necessary so that it breaches in its historically correct spot.
It is not necessary to destroy the lagoon in order to save it, or to destroy the animals and the waves. Stop the bulldozers, protect the wave, and save Malibu Lagoon.