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Local Eyesore Becomes Important Ecosystem


October 14, 2021

Carmel-by-the-Sea GC Restores Native Dune

Restoring the last intact native dunes within the city limits of picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea seemed as challenging as counting the grains of sand that make up this iconic shoreline. Littered with debris and covered with unappealing conicosia (ice-plant), the North Dunes was a major eyesore at the base of the city’s main street. Carmel-by-the-Sea Garden Club (CBTSGC) was determined to do something about that.

In 2010, after consulting with the city and receiving a permit from the Coastal Commission, the club moved forward with ambitious plans. They worked to eliminate all aggressive, non-native species—especially ice-plant—and restore the native dune scrub, Tidestrom’s lupine. From 2012-2014, they revegetated 10,000 square feet of this area with native dune species. Club members also created educational signage and installed benches overlooking the dunes in conjunction with The Garden Club of America centennial celebration in 2013. 

Working under the supervision of biologist Joey Dorrel-Canepa, members have become adept in various non-native removal techniques for this Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area. Some have braved “pokey” shrubs and uncertain footing to clear ripgut brome from drainage areas and the “ice-plant warriors” have remained undeterred when routing out the belligerent conicosia.

This ecosystem provides habitat for the Black Legless Lizard, a species of special concern, and attracts butterflies, bees, and small insects. In 2019, the North Dunes Restoration Project became a GCA Partners for Plants project. Thanks to CBTSGC members’ efforts, what was once an eyesore has now become an extraordinary ecosystem that supports valuable plant and animal life. 


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