Sea Level Rise: What Will Happen in Humboldt County?

Dike overtopped during a king tide tidally inundating low‐lying lands on South Bay.

Dike overtopped during a king tide tidally inundating low‐lying lands on South Bay. [Photo from Trinity Associates Assessment prepared for Humboldt County]

NOTE: There is an interesting tool in the press release below: Take a look at the second to last link–the County’s web GIS–or click here. This map shows much more recent aerial views of Humboldt County property than is available on Google Maps and all the parcel numbers are labeled (Give the overlays a minute or two to load.)

Press release from the County of Humboldt:

Humboldt County has completed a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and you are invited to view it now.

The assessment, prepared by Aldaron Laird and Trinity Associates, with grant money the county received from the California Ocean Protection Council, identifies potential vulnerabilities and risks associated with future anticipated sea level rise and tidal inundation on Humboldt Bay. The report describes the vulnerability of shoreline, land use, transportation, utility, and coastal resource assets and will be used to develop sea level rise adaptation strategies in a region-wide collaborative effort in the coming years as part of the Humboldt Bay Area Plan update currently underway.

The Humboldt Bay Area Plan Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment is available on the county’s web site. Or you can download it directly. (12.8 MB file).

In addition, a Sea Level Rise 1.0 meter viewer is available for Humboldt Bay on the county’s WebGIS.

Local Coastal Plan web page



  • unbridled phillistine

    Overtopped? Or toppledover? Overtopped Dike…lol

    • breached.

    • lack of maintenance in accord with the refuge’s desire to create more salt marsh. you can see the effects of this on land the state has taken over in the eel river delta, too. all that good dairy land going back to salt water. an example of overkill by environmentalists, a huge waste of taxpayer money, and a lessening of the dairy industry and property and sales tax revenue for the county.

      • I disagree about the Eel River delta. The main reason the Salt River project garnered public support and easements through more than 40 private properties (many are dairies) was for flood alleviation on dairy lands, residential buildings and county roads. The salt water intrusion at high tides is limited to the Riverside Ranch parcel that the state purchased from a willing landowner, no active dairy property on the lower Salt River is affected by saltwater intrusion due to restoration activities. Healthier estuaries on places like the Eel River are essential to out-migrating salmon and steelhead, and bigger fish runs lead to economic benefits from recreational and commercial fisheries, and generation of sales tax revenue as well.

  • here we are removing European beach grass. 3,200 miles directly to the east they are planting EBG at the same exact time we are removing it. please stop removing the grass. out there the docks are mostly fixed and every harbor dweller can see the rise over time for themselves. during moon tides you get wet going to your boat, which is the new new.

    • Dude, give it up!!!! If you hate it that they are restoring the beach that much then move aready!!!!

      • the existing root structure will provide decades of stability as the ocean rises and eventually removes these spits, including the lagoons. I am glad ignorant pride is your game vs intelligence.

    • another waste of money. it grows right back.

      • Indeed. Constant action is needed. That is the nature of invasive plants. If there is a rise in sea height, why restore what will be lost anyway?

        • IF the dunes are restored, they have the capacity to move inland as sea level rises, instead of eventually being overcome.

          • If the sea rises, the beach grass dies back anyway. Instead of a wide flat beach reaching to the hills, there is a drop off where the beach grass has lost the battle behind which are dunes. The movement inland is not lost, just slowed.

            The only reason for the removal of grass is to promote the growth of things that can’t compete with them.

    • Ignorant mistakes in the east do not provide a case for the same mistakes here.

      • it is literally the same, even the plovers. in Sandwich, they removed the grass, then after massive loss of sand and millions of dollars later they decided to replant the grass, it didn’t have enough time to provide the root structure need, millions of dollars of more sand and now they are looking a building a physical wall. Sandwich is the low area of that spit and showing the first sign of problems associated with rise. why wouldn’t it be the same and how is it you think the dunes will cross the bay or the lagoons naturally which elevation wise are the only concerns here. the dunes won’t cross the bay or the lagoons.

  • Why stop at 3 feet? Why not say 10 feet? It is just as likely.

  • I was out at the South Spit last week and noticed that right where they have been having the kids tear out the grass the dune had been overtopped and the waves nearly made it to the parking lot. Right next to that same area (where they have left the grass) the dune is much higher and the waves had not over topped.
    The BLM has indicated that if the road gets wiped out they probably won’t fix it. But meanwhile they keep digging out the grass that is trying to hold the dunes together.
    We could be calling this the South Island before long. I guess the kids will have to get boated out there to dig out plants once that happens.

    • Oh no! So they are returning it to how it should be and a man made road that naturally wouldn’t belong there without the invasive eurepeon plant isn’t going to make it!! Boo-hoo, native plants and animals are more important than some stupid road.

      • Just to be clear you (whoever you are) are the one to determine what “should” be here?
        Can you give us a definition of Native please.
        For me I enjoy visiting this area and I see a lot of others doing the same. If you are suggesting they are tearing out these plants to get rid of the road there will probably be some folks not to keen on that.

        • that grass is not native & is destroying the natural habitat of the dunes. They were speaking correctly from common knowledge available in many local reads than just your assumption of what you only think is good for the dunes.

        • This is the USA , nothing is native anymore Not LA not your rose bush, not your dog and dam sure not you or me. Hell, the Mexican running over the border is more “native” to North America than I am and I’ve lived here for 43 years. Oh well. There’s my morning rant….feel….much…better.

      • I’d be willing to bet that you don’t feel that way about the road to your house.

      • How about the invasive European(correct spelling) HUMANS?

    • ive seen the ocean come over in that place before.its been many years ago, though.

  • Earlier article in New Yorker claims detailed subduction zone event and maybe worse concern is 10 foot DROP in Terra firma

  • Go look at seashells in the Scotia bluffs😊
    It is all changing, all the time.
    Human caused climate change will hopefully cause human extinction, so the rest of creation can continue.

  • It seems like there’s more water on the roads now, than when it used to rain more.

  • Been around long enough to remember (well kinda) how it was.

    On the south spit… the ocean would over-top the dunes most winters,
    wash out the road… then in springtime, the county would grade the road back in.
    You pretty much expected that in the winter storms.
    Current BLM management – IMHO: Disaster for the road and public access.

    Samoa had er— ‘long’ beaches before the grass. Sand would sweep across the
    dunes and end up in the bay. Look carefully and you can see the sand coming inland
    at the Lanphear dunes. (wiped out the European grass). Even during the Pulp mill
    era they would have to dig-out the road.

    >”But meanwhile they keep digging out the grass that is trying to hold the dunes together.”

    Doing it for the ‘Snowy Plover’ It nests on the ‘flat’ beaches with no European grass… however, they are
    driving out lots of other animals that live on the ‘new’ beaches.
    Somebody set fires last fall on the beach near the Eel River… temporarily wiped out the European grass.
    IMHO: Likely way cheaper than taking out the grass by hand.

    On Clam Beach, I did a walk on it a few weeks ago. Utterly changed. Strawberry
    (and other) creeks don’t reach the ocean now… dumps into ponds/swamps behind the
    front line of dunes. Only a few ways to reach the ‘park’ road from the beach… unless you
    want to battle through the willows and wade the ponds. Spruce forest is growing up now,
    like ‘before’ the last subduction quake.

    Centerville Beach… parking lot is washed out now… sand is marching inland. Old ranch houses
    are gone near the beach… and it looks like the road will go soon.
    Will have to be re-routed up on the hillside.

    Lost Coast (Devils Gate South). Road used to be covered with sand every wind-storm.
    European beach grass stopped that… with the sand stabilized, the ranchers put up fence to keep cattle in,
    and people out. Dunno on that sort of move either. Used to be a nice place to walk.

    Either way… changes in the bay/dunes are only temporary.
    Next big quake will massively alter the coastline… and the last ‘big’ one happened
    about 300 years ago… and they are due every 300 years or so!
    Hold onto your hats.

  • Fake News

    • Fake news? Are you saying that it’s not true that Humboldt County completed a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment? Or it’s not true that there will be a sea level rise?

      If it’s the former, then you are wrong. This is a press release from Humboldt County and it links to the study.

      If it is the latter, you are entitled to your opinion but that doesn’t make this article fake news. You are disagreeing with the conclusions of an assessment. But my article is still correct and it is not fake news.

      I don’t think you understand that when you say fake news, you are saying that I lie to my readers. Since readers rely on the information I provide them to make decisions, I get pretty frustrated by someone flinging that term around easily. Please don’t.

      • “Fake” news is not necessarily a lie. It is most likely a sizable exaggeration in importance or selective data. For example, if a levy breach happens for the first time in decades, is it because the sea rise is higher or because the levy ceased being maintained as a result of some political choice? When alternatives or even questions are considered “climate change denial”, with some suggesting that are tantamount to crime, how can can any confidence be had in reporting?

        Questions are a nuisance but that does not mean they are to be dismissed.

        • It’s happening world wide. “They” are just not putting it in the main news. Miami Beach fronts are being “elevated “ 8-10 feet. New sea walls being constructed in the Netherlands. New York. Sydney. Japan etc

        • “Fake news” is not a question. Fake news is a statement on the quality of my newsite which, try as I might, feels mighty personal when I’m struggling to provide solid information to my community.

          Do you really think that if Humboldt County published an assessment that said there is no such thing as sea level rise I’d ignore it? I hope you don’t. I do my best to be fair.

          • I think that humans tend to not question their own beliefs. Which is why Fox news and NBC both ( along with many others) can rush to publish what they should have not. There have been times when I simply accepted a report that failed to be true because it conformed to what I already believed. My ‘alarm bells’ were not triggered. That is an honest mistake but still is believing “fake” news.

            On the other hand, there has been a serious falling away of media responsibility. Partly due to the overwhelming speed of internet reporting but also because so many reporters believe that it is their job to educate the public, not in the truth, but what they should believe. The truth as they see it is not sufficiently scrutinized simply because they believe it doesn’t need it. That is a deliberate choice.

            I don’t think that Humboldt Co making a report is the “fake” news under discussion but what the county included may have been “fake” at least so one commenter thinks. To take it personally when someone says so, as a reporter, is not good. Heaven knows a whole lot of dire warnings and claims on Global Warming have proven to be wildly off yet were reported as gospel at one time. That is not good for anyone.

            • This site is a news site. The County site is informational. There is a difference and a tendency of people to conflate the two. If he is saying that Sea level rise is Fake news, then a) he should say so and b) he should provide at least some basis for his belief. At the very least would be something like “The County has its own agenda.” That sort of simple comment is hardly a good basis for discussion but at least allows others to know what his complaint is.

              You are articulating your concerns. He is not.

              • Thinkingallowed makes some very good points and recognizes his and our vulnerabilities when it comes to what we accept as real in relation to our held beliefs.
                Kym, you may have taken the Fake news comment a little to personally. Bill Dance may have been suggesting that the report was a bunch of bologna although he did so rather clumsily.
                I am one of many who would defend your steadfast approach to reporting accurately. BTW thank you for that. Very much.

                • Nicely put. I difficulty expressing appreciation as it sounds so sucking upish. But I do thoroughly appreciate all kinds of stories found here and nowhere else.

                • I don’t have a problem with bill dance saying that the assessment is bologna (I disagree with him but I defend his right to his opinion.) I do, however, dislike intensely the tendency of people to slap the term “fake news” on statements or stories when actually they disagree with the subject being covered not with the report itself. That does a disservice to a reporter that is working hard to put out neutral information about sometimes touchy subjects (though in this case, a press release isn’t exactly journalism.)

              • You got mad at mine too, articulated or not. He just might not be so , ahem, “articulate” (kind way of phrasing it) as I am. It is the parroted phrase of the moment.

                • I didn’t get mad at your comment. I just disagreed with it. (I was raised in a family that thought discussion–even passionate discussion–was healthy and sometimes that doesn’t translate well to others that think I’m mad when I’m actually enjoying myself.)

    • I believe Bill’s “Fake news” he meant May be about “the big one”. Earthquake.
      I understand everything Kym. You do an awesome job.
      Thank you.

  • Who knows? But I think it’s a good idea to expect the best and plan for the worst. I’ve never been a big fan of developing too close to the ocean/salt water. If nothing else for the tsunami danger.

  • Dikes deserve freedom… let them go free.

  • Water is a powerful thing. Surfs have ravished coastlines since the begaining of time washing more and more into the oceans while streams and rivers wash dirt rocks trees and such down and into the oceans as well. The sea has been rising since the first wave washed onto the shore and it will keep raising. Ice melts, thats what it does as it shrinks it melts faster, thats how it works. Glaicers are remains for the last ice age, no concern about them melting either, we havent been in a ice age for many years. Man made or not the climate will always change. What i havent found is any research that includes the fact that the north pole has been shifting to the south. This is also fact. That is why there is a sifferance between maganitic north and true north. As the north pole roates south all that ice is being moved naturealy to the warmer south causing it to melt as well. These are all reasons the seas will riase without humans even being on the planet.

    • I wonder if it is the human need go be in control. People are not able go control the cosmos but, if they assume humanity caused the problem, than, if nagged enough, humans can fix it. Or at least be blamed which seems to give some a sense of satisfaction. I don’t think people are even much in control of themselves much less everyone else.

      The people that take cherry picked data as gospel are especially resistant to modifying their own behavior accordingly. There seems to be a mystical quality that if they believe, it will be fixed. But dealing with a complicated reality is never specifically addressed. It’s too hard.

      I don’t understand why the magnetic pole drifting south should cause climate change. It’s not going to change the tilt of the planet, is it?

    • U have a valid point Antichrist. Earth is ever changing. We humans are just naive and like to build on the water.

    • The seas have not been rising “sine the first wave washed on the shore”. That is hilarious. Do you believe humans and dinosaurs lived together as well? Are you a flat earther?

      “Man made or not the climate will always change.”

      Human can/have accepted that change to a rate that is causing a staggering loss of biodiversity.

      • The first wave washing against the shore took earth from the shore adding volume to the ocean causimg it to rise. Just because it wasnt a great enough amout to measure doesnt make my statement false, but you add up all those waves every day, every hour and you have alot of fill going into that container we call an ocean. As it fills , it rises if you dont want to follow this logic , take a glass, fill it half full of water and then drop half a table spoon of sand in it and watch the water level in the glass rise. It truely is that simple. Climate change has always been happening, humans are only increasing the rate at which it is happening, and honestly not by a large percentage. However that small percentage makes a huge differance. What we need more so than reducing fossil fuel use by other marginal power forms , is a global population control. No matter how much we cut our useage of power human over all usage will keep increasing as our numbers on this rock keep growing at alarming rates. Instead of theowing baby showers we should be as a race looking down on those who keep adding to the worlds problems by breeding. If someone truely cared about human effects on global climate they would refuse to ever have a child and be out in force trying to stop the over population of the planet. But instead we get these angery mobs screaming for money . It is all a power play with no true effects other than more resources being used . There in lays the true big picture.

  • No doubt we can do better in our relationship to our environment but here we are. Same goes for the plants and animals that some “non-native” people tell us are not native and have to be dug up or shot.
    Is the sea rising ? probably. Is the ground rising and falling? Yep. Both at the same time. Did every plant and animal originate from another part of this planet? You betcha.

  • roundhouse to your face

    proven fact is the sea level actually fell .
    idiocracy in humboldt ! that goon potato man al gore had prophecused 20 years ago wed all be under water, and to sell your ocean front properties, but sell tho who, someone that likes underwater houses? wtf kind of complete idiot advice that was. And the sea level still hasn’t affected anyone here. bra bra bra
    gift of here with this shyte

  • The level of ecological and geological ignorance in these comments is disheartening.

    Non-native plants and animals are not much concern. Invasive plants and animals cause a loss of biodiversity when they are introduced. That is why they are undesirable. Rising sea level and global climate change are already having devastating impacts of ecosystems around the globe. We cannot (morally) mitigate the negative economic effects by further hammering ecology.

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