A number of unique, regionally significant recreation resources are found in the project area including Crown Memorial State Beach, the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, Crab Cove Visitor Center, and heavily used sports fields. Many of the parks evaluated also include significant natural areas that provide habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species and an opportunity for shoreline education and interpretation.
Shoreline parks and recreation areas are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and storm events because of their location, physical characteristics, and the functions they serve. For example, many segments of the Bay Trail in the project area are vulnerable because they are located on shoreline levees that are susceptible to storm flooding, and some trails are surfaced with materials that erode easily. Even minor damage or temporary flooding of trails can prevent persons with limited mobility from using damaged portions of the shoreline.
Sports fields, golf courses and other grassy areas can be permanently damaged if flooded, and landscaping and other plant materials will fail to thrive or die if exposed to salinity. Beaches, such as Crown Memorial State Beach, that are already eroding and require replenishment will increasingly need to be actively managed. Natural areas that are often the focus of shoreline education and interpretation are vulnerable as the elevations of tidal marshes in the project area are not expected to keep up with sea level rise, and there is very limited space for them to migrate inland. The collective consequences of these vulnerabilities are likely to be significant. There are insufficient alternative inland areas to make up for the loss of shoreline park and recreation resources that currently improve quality of life, support positive public health outcomes, and provide opportunities for the public to access and learn about the Bay.
Early adaptation actions to respond to these vulnerabilities include using water resistant materials, planting salt tolerant species, prioritizing maintenance and repair of trails that serve people with limited mobility, and protecting or creating high tide refugia within the existing tidal marshes. Other actions, such as developing multi-objective shoreline improvement plans, will take more time and resources, and will require shared decision-making and funding if they are to lead to both recreation and habitat improvements.
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- Lindy Lowe