Estimating the value of California's beaches and beach ecosystems
Dr. King developed the California Sediment Benefits Analysis Tool (CSBAT) with the State of California and the US Army Corps of Engineers to help policy makers analyze the most efficient places to use opportunistic sediment. As demonstrated in his Size Matters paper, beach width and length matter to visitors.
With climate change and sea level rise, this type of analysis will become even more important. Dr. King’s early studies (DBW SLR, Climatic Change, King/McGregor) examined the trade-offs involved in planning for sea level rise.
2002, San Clemente
1999, for the California Department of Boating and Waterways
2008, King, McGregor, & Whittet, for the California Department of Boating and Waterways
2011, Published in Climactic Change
2015, King, McGregor, Whittet, published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
Our beaches have real value, and we must protect that.
Dr.King has worked on the economic and fiscal impact of beaches in California for over 25 years.
He works to develop methods to value beaches and calculate cost and benefits, tools which become even more important with climate change and sea level rise.
His recent article Valuing Beach Ecosystems in an Age of Retreat (link), co-authored with leading beach ecologists, examines the importance of maintaining these ecosystems and the threat they face from armoring and other coastal development. The article proposes that the California Coastal Commission or other agency institute a no-net-loss policy for beach ecosystems in California. Even with such a policy, California is likely to lose many beaches due to sea level rise.
Maintaining and preserving California’s precious beaches in an age of sea level rise will be challenging. Beach restoration including dune restoration and beach nourishment will likely be part of the solution, at least in the near to medium term (5-30 years). Dr. King is currently working on a Beach Sustainability Analysis (BSA) tool with CSU colleague Kiki Patsch.
After working on the recreational value of beaches for over ten years, Dr. King’s research focus turned to the non-recreational value of beaches. Beaches provide a wide variety of ecological functions, goods and services (EFGS) besides recreation that often go unnoticed. Indeed, beaches provide many of the same EFGS as wetlands, (e.g., habitat and nesting for birds, water filtration) yet often are treated as sand deserts where visitors put down their towels to recreate.