Seacliff State Beach in the coastal Santa Cruz County community of Aptos will be the site of a cleanup event this week after being battered so badly by winter storms that President Joe Biden toured the beach last month, state park officials said.
The Feb. 18 cleanup is the latest improvement effort planned by public agencies and supporters of the beach, which is known for its fishing pier and concrete ship, the SS Palo Alto.
California State Parks spokesperson Douglas Johnson said the storms that came through the region in late December and January caused extensive damage to infrastructure at the beach, which remains partially closed. The lower parking lot, picnic areas, campground and much of the pier remain closed, with no estimate yet for when they will reopen.
The storms “impacted the ability to provide the standard recreational opportunities visitors have experienced in the past,” Johnson said, adding that in the plans to rebuild, “there will need to be careful consideration of how to provide recreational facilities that are resilient to the reality and challenges of sea level rise in a changing climate.”
Half of the pier that once stretched out to the SS Palo Alto was pummeled by large swells and fell into the ocean. Other infrastructure damaged included the seawall, shade structures in picnic area and bathrooms there, according to the nonprofit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, which partners with the state park agency to manage parks in Santa Cruz County.
The nonprofit launched a “Seacliff State Beach Recovery Fund” to assist with recovery efforts at the beach, and the fund had raised more than $30,000 as of last week, Johnson said.
The recovery effort in the area also drew the interest of Biden, who visited Seacliff State Beach as well as the Santa Cruz County coastal city of Capitola on Jan. 19 to survey the storm damage.
The cleanup event planned for Feb. 18 will run from noon to 2 p.m. People will meet in the upper parking lot and are encouraged to bring their own bucket, gloves and trash grabbers, according to state park officials. People wanting more information can call 831-685-6444 or email.
Many state parks in Santa Cruz County and adjacent San Mateo County closed during the series of winter storms. Thirteen parks around California remain fully closed along with 36 that have partial closures, like Seacliff State Beach. A list of storm-related park closures around the state can be found online.
People can visit the Friends of Santa Cruz to make a donation to the Seacliff State Beach recovery fund or to find other ways to support state parks in Santa Cruz County.