840. Dune History

The Asilomar dunes have changed dramatically since the first Europeans came to the Monterey area. The original dune system spanned 480 acres from Pt. Joe to Pt. Pinos – about the size of 480 football fields. Development has shrunk it to only one-sixteenth of its original size: the precious 25 acres now left at Asilomar. In the 1800s, settlers used the dunes to graze their cattle. The YWCA bought the land for a summer camp in 1912, and the dunes became an active playground for women campers. They built a tennis court, a swimming pool and even a softball diamond on the dunes. Only the swimming pool remains. By the time Asilomar became a state park in 1956, the dunes were severely degraded. Park visitors added to the damage by criss-crossing the dunes, trampling native plants and eroding the sand. State Park Senior Environmental Scientist Tom Moss: TOM MOSS: Once the vegetation was gone, the sand began to blow. And at that point, ice plant was introduced, a plant that's been used throughout California to try to hold eroding or unstable areas. NARRATOR: Exotic plants such as ice plant engulfed the few native plants left. In 1984, Park staff began a massive dune restoration project. They removed non-native plants, grew and re-planted natives, reshaped the dunes, and built the boardwalk for visitors.