April 14, 2021
Virtual Planet Technologies LLC
Elkhorn Slough contains the 3rd largest extent of salt marsh in California and supports extraordinary biodiversity. Nearly 50,000 tourists visit every year to birdwatch, spot the charismatic sea otters, and kayak on the slough’s vibrant waters. The iconic Highway 1 crosses directly over the mouth of the slough and is vulnerable to flooding at several points where the highway traverses the wetlands.
This low-lying area will experience rising sea levels and possibly increased storms causing more frequent and intense flooding and eventually permanent inundation by ocean waters. This could impact coastal property, infrastructure, public safety, and access to these amazing coastal resources.
This experience summarizes the key findings from the Central Coast Highway 1 Climate Resilience Study. We hope it will shed some light on similar planning related to transportation and natural resource issues in face of climate change and sea-level rise.