McGrath State Beach to temporarily close due to flooding

“It’s a classic irony”

McGrath State Beach temporarily closed on January 5, until further notice due to the recent increased flooding caused by the Santa Clara River Estuary. The beach will close for the security, safeguarding, and preservation of resources.

The flooding is caused when the waters backs up behind the naturally occurring sand bar blocking the mouth of the estuary until the estuary breaches with regular rainfall. Seasonally, McGrath State Beach enjoys cool summers and mild, wet winters.

Ventura Sector Superintendent, Tyson Butzke, said, “The park will remain closed until the floodwaters recede and cleanup and repairs to the entry road and campsites have been made.”

“It’s a classic irony,” said Tyson he’s used to the strange looks he gets when he tells people the worst flooding typically comes during the driest years. That happens because a sandbar builds up between the ocean and the mouth of the Santa Clara River, trapping water in the estuary.

The city of Ventura has a permit to discharge treated wastewater into the estuary and has done so for decades. As the water rises, it spills into the campground.

Most years, winter rain forces enough water down the river to break through the sandy berm, letting the water drain into the ocean. The campground then reopens in the spring.

But with little rainfall during dry years(up until a few weeks ago), the berm and flooding stuck around longer. Before opening this past Labor Day weekend, McGrath was closed for nearly three years.

The berm had breached that winter, and staff and volunteer groups repaired flood damage and cleared away dead trees and brush. In all, Butzke said they were able to open 47 of the 170 campsites.

According to Danette Delgado -Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for the Channel Coast District, California State Parks “Our mission is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. With over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites and 4,500 miles of trails, the State Park System provides wonderful recreational, educational, and inspirational opportunities for over 67 million visitors a year.”

“McGrath State Beach is one of the best bird-watching areas in California, with the lush riverbanks of the Santa Clara River and sand dunes along the shore. This is why we always try to re-open McGrath, for the pleasure it brings to those camping there.”

For the current conditions and status of McGrath please call 968-1033 or 5851850.

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