Planning and Permitting

Anacapa Island Wharf: Improving Safety and Resiliency

May 11, 2022 – Federal Market Sector Lead Josh Burnam

Home to a National Marine Sanctuary, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a National Park, Anacapa Island is the second most visited destination in California’s Channel Islands National Park. Owned by the National Park Service, the Channel Islands is comprised of five ecologically rich islands and almost 250,000 acres, half of which are under the ocean.

Anacapa Island features volcanic rock, towering sea cliffs, sea caves, and natural bridges created from strong wave erosion, such as the 40-foot-high Arch Rock, a symbol of Anacapa Island and Channel Islands National Park.

Each island is home to a wide variety of nationally and internationally significant natural and cultural resources. Channel Islands National Park hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and the Park Service saw an urgent need to improve the safety and efficiency of access for the public and staff at Anacapa Island’s deteriorated wharf. That wharf relied on a ladder that passengers climbed from the deck of a boat bobbing on the water.

Forward-looking Design for Safety and Accessibility

The new wharf now under construction will have a vertical lifting platform that will allow ease of movement from vessels to the landing dock and improve visitor access. The new configuration and mechanical platform can be raised or lowered to match a boat’s height at the current sea level, replacing the existing ladder system and dramatically improving safety. This installation will require widening the dock by 6 feet.

Anticipated sea level rise also had implications for the pier design. The new structure had to be designed to accommodate future projected changes in sea level without the need for total replacement. Therefore, the new pier is designed to last 50 years and, when completed, will be about 2 feet higher than the existing landing with the ability to be raised an additional 3 feet in response to sea-level rise.

Safety and accessibility will be improved by replacing the existing ladder system with a mechanical platform and lift system at Anacapa Island’s wharf.

Other improvements being made to upland portions of the site include replacing the deck, enhancing electrical and mechanical systems, and implementing other modifications which are all designed to improve visitor and staff safety and experience, while minimizing impacts to the island. In addition to improving passenger and cargo operations, the new dock will preserve cultural landscape characteristics, increase sustainability, and ensure the protection of marine and terrestrial environments.

Effective Environmental Compliance and Permitting to Ensure Wharf Rehabilitation

Designing and building the new dock required extensive planning, permitting, and design work. Anchor QEA, working with their teaming partner and prime contractor Davido Consulting Group, managed the Title 1, 2, and 3 efforts, which included designing, estimating costs, conducting marine archaeological and bathymetric surveys, obtaining permits, ensuring regulatory compliance, and providing construction support.

Anchor QEA managed the marine engineering for the Anacapa Island dock construction documents, including plans and specifications, cost estimates, value analysis, and fieldwork, and handled all permitting and compliance actions.

The project had to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and the Magnusson-Stevens Act. It also required a California Environmental Quality Act exemption support memorandum and permits from the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Our team was able to complete all compliance and permitting for the project in under 9 months.

Construction for the new Anacapa Island wharf is complete as of Spring 2023. Ultimately, this project will improve Anacapa Island’s visitor safety and experience, increase safety and efficiency for Park Service staff, improve passenger and cargo operations, and help preserve Channel Islands’ unique cultural landscape characteristics. The wharf’s unique lift apparatus will not only drastically enhance the safety of operations and solve access issues but will improve overall resiliency and respond to projected sea-level rise.