Your editorial "Our Battered Coast" (Jan. 22) illustrates that without creative approaches to Southern California's beach sand depletion problems, collectively we face a dismal future. The Times was correct in pointing to the dams of the Southland as a major factor in this challenge.
Behind the flood control dams of the upper San Gabriel River system alone, there is stored enough sediments to replenish vast expanses of our prized coastline. If only 30% of this material is sand, these dams contain a beach 300 feet by 105 miles. Unfortunately when it is suggested to Los Angeles County officials that this material be transferred to heal beaches, their engineers blinded by "bottom-line accounting," reject these suggestions for less costly alternatives. Past flood control sediment solutions have resulted in polluted streams and reduced recreational opportunities.
Happily, officials in the California Department of Fish and Game, in conjunction with State Parks, are investigating just such an approach. We've recommended the removal of an abandoned structure, the Rindge Dam, on Malibu Creek. This structure contains several million cubic yards of sediment needed to replenish the beleaguered Malibu coastline. An additional benefit would be to open several dozen miles of streams to California's most southerly population of steelhead rainbow trout, as the dam blocks their spawning runs.
We are convinced that multiple solutions exist to the challenges facing the needs of Southern California's citizens.
California Trout, Inc.