Californians have shared their disappointment after a popular beach was closed indefinitely due to major storm damage. 

Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara was shut down this week after suffering several winter storms and torrential rainfall that left huge sinkholes and toppled trees. 

The state's parks department said it took the decision following 'the complete failure of an extensive culvert system', and there is 'no anticipated date of re-opening at this time.' 

Locals said the move is a tragic loss ahead of summer, with resident Shannon Brooks telling SF Gate that it 'holds a special place in my heart.' 

Brooks described Refugio State Park as a 'bit of a hidden treasure', and is typically less busy than tourist trap beaches further south in Santa Barbara. 

It is known for idyllic surfing, fishing and camping, but those who usually enjoy the West Coast hub will be forced to look elsewhere this summer. 

'I hope Refugio opens in the not-so-distant future, because it’s truly a magical place beloved by so many people,' Brooks added. 

Earlier this year, the region was battered by several winter storms that brought huge rainfall, also closing nearby Gaviota State Park. 

While Gaviota has since re-opened after debris and damage was cleared, Refugio has struggled to recover. 

Namely, the parks department said the failure of the culvert system - used for drainage - 'resulted in numerous sinkholes across multiple agency jurisdictions.' 

The beach was also known for its 100-year-old palm trees, that were planted over a century ago after being shipped in from the Canary Islands. 

Images showed the palm trees toppled to the ground by the severe weather. 

When news of the downed trees spread online, locals shared their heartbreak, with one saying on Instagram their 'favorite beach since I was a child will never be the same.' 

'Got married there. Sad to see these iconic trees down,' said another.  

Because of the damage to several beaches and parks in the area, including Gaviota and El Capitan State Beaches, California State Parks updated its management plans in a statement.  

'All three parks have experienced many changes since the original General Plans were adopted, and the guidance provided in the 1979 plans is now outdated,' the department said. 

'Ongoing damage from severe winter storms, impending sea-level-rise and other climate change impacts, aging infrastructure, significant acquisition of new property, (and) high-recreation demand.'

The department also pointed to 'the need to protect natural, cultural, and recreational resources all contribute to the need for updated plans that reflect the current realities of these three park units.' 

To clean up the beaches, the California Conservation Corps and Caltrans are stepping in to assist California State Parks. 

'The staff are working their hearts out to get the parks back to a state where we can open them again,' State Parks Channel Coast District planning chief Dena Bellman told Noozhawk.

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2024-06-15T00:55:25Z dg43tfdfdgfd