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Unique Mapping Project Underway On South Coast Beaches; May Provide Insight Into Storm Impacts

A man is getting a lot of looks from sunbathers as he walks on Butterfly Beach, in Montecito. That’s because he’s wearing a bright yellow backpack with what looks like an antenna in top, and carrying an electronic device in his hand. He sort of looks like he’s one of the “Ghostbusters.” But, Daniel Hoover is a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey taking part in an ongoing program to map, and detect changes in some Santa Barbara and Ventura County beaches.

Hoover says they’re mapping beaches from Goleta to Ventura.

The project has been ongoing for years. Researchers think the drought, and perhaps even bigger picture global warming have impacted the region’s beaches by reducing sediment flowing into the ocean.

But, Hoover says the huge January 9th storm may have had some unprecedented impacts, and they are hoping the research can provide some answers.  He says the hope is that something good came out of the storm, in that it filled in some badly needed sediment on the region’s beaches.  The mapping will help show what happened.

The data can provide important information on the state of beaches for local agencies involved with managing them, and trying to come up with ways to deal with erosion. That’s especially been a big issue in recent years for Goleta Breach.

Still, while it’s science in action, Hoover gets lots of curious looks as he walks up and down the beach in Montecito.  The research team will be on South Coast beaches through Friday on foot, on ATV’s in some areas, and on jet skis offshore finishing up the beach mapping effort.