Respect coastal environments on your trips this summer vacation

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Baker beach, California. Photo by Tayton McCorstin
Baker beach, California. Photo by Tayton McCorstin

This summer is going to be a hot one! Have you thought about your beach trip faux pas?

Coastal environments are very fragile ecosystems. They are under attack from civilization, and travelers need to be aware of how to limit destruction when they visit the beach.

Last weekend I visited Muir Beach. It’s a couple of hours away from Stockton. It was frustrating to see how the locals treated their coastal environment in the midst of a restoration project.

I was so excited to be on the coast because I am taking oceanography this semester. Studying the ocean and its relationship to land has given me tons of insight and appreciation for coastal environments.

Muir Beach has a restoration project going on.

“This multi-year, landscape-level coastal restoration project was designed to bring back the ecological functions of the creek, freshwater wetlands, intermittent tidal lagoon and dunes over a 46-acre site at the mouth of this iconic Bay Area watershed,” says The National Park Service website’s description of the work. The project has created a habitat for endangered species in the area.

The population around the beach seemed high, there are houses on the hillside. People with money are so disrespectful to the beauty around them. I’m not sure if they think they can just pay people to clean up their messes, but residents are disgusting in the Muir Beach area.

There are signs and fences all around the restoration project behind the beach trying to keep people out because the ecosystem is fragile.

People walked their dogs, urinated, and ran over the grass areas despite the signs.

The overall problem with disrespecting this type of project is the ripple effect. If the creek can’t recover then the attached wetland ecosystems will begin to fail. Death and destruction of the coastal environment will make for one dreary landscape.

An ugly beach can lead to a decrease in economic production in the area, finally leading to a wasteland.

Muir Beach is just one coastal restoration project. Some areas in danger don’t have the funding for restoration, putting them even more at risk.

This summer you should be thinking about what you and your loved ones can do to limit the harm done to the coastal environments you plan to visit.

Here are some things to consider:

Read all signs and respect what conservation efforts the beach is trying. When people band together for a good cause, why be that guy and ruin possible research and hard work?

Don’t bring a million single-use plastics to the beach.  Bring reusable containers for your food, don’t stop off at the store for Lunchables and juice pouches. 

Limit the trash you’ll potentially leave. If you have to make sure you clean up after yourself. Plastic is extremely harmful to the ocean because it can not break down. The only acceptable extra plastic to bring is a trash bag.

Respect wildlife. We may not have coral reefs in the area or dolphins swimming up to us on the west coast, but if you travel to see these types of things, respect them by leaving them alone. Limit the amount of interaction you have with marine wildlife. They are not your pets for a day.

Go into the experience with a “What can I do?” attitude. Learn about where you are and contribute to the environment. Don’t just sit back and watch your friends and family destroy. If you want to come back to a certain beach, leave it better than you found it.

Finally, do your research. Look up where you want to visit. See if they have any restrictions on visitation areas and respect that. Educate your loved ones on how to limit their presence on beach trips.