Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Year in review: Erosion continues to make claims on Cape Cod (Cape Cod Times)
Year in review: Erosion continues to make claims on Cape Cod
Erosion claims another set of steps at Nauset Light Beach along the National Seashore. Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times
By Doug Fraser
Posted Jan 1, 2017 at 7:07 AM
Updated Jan 1, 2017 at 2:45 PM
The forces of nature are always at work on the Cape and Islands, scraping away at one spot and adding to another. Some years we all lose, as in the storm a few years ago that peeled a 20-foot thick slice off the perimeter of the Cape.
The past year saw no major erosion events like that. There was the occasional dramatic moment, like the cliff face just south of Coast Guard Beach in Truro that calved suddenly one day in May, depositing a 400-foot-wide by 12-feet tall mass of clay, sand and tangled vegetation onto the beach. But mostly, erosion in 2016 was a continuation of long-fought battles waged in hotspots like Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, Herring Cove in Provincetown and on the beaches of Brewster.
This spring, the Army Corps of Engineers released a report that concluded what many already knew: the jetties built in 1906 to protect the east end of the Cape Cod Canal were at least partially responsible for the erosion on Town Neck Beach. By blocking sand migrating along the shoreline that would have otherwise replenished what was lost to erosion, Town Neck Beach has been losing an average of 2 to 3 feet per year, until recent years where the average erosion rate doubled to 6½ feet per year.
After paying out $3.2 million for sand dredged from the canal to be deposited on Town Neck Beach, Sandwich officials are hoping that a second study will determine the extent of the damage caused by the jetties and result in more assistance from the Army Corps to fix or mitigate the problem.
The Cape Cod National Seashore also got pounded last year, but is looking to retreat in the face of what may become a worsening problem with sea rise and storm intensification because of global warming. The park’s Herring Cove Beach bathhouse in Provincetown, completed three years ago, was built so it could be picked up and moved inland as needed. The beach parking lots are scheduled to retreat also, to higher ground in 2018, with a $5.3 million relocation project. Following more damage from winter storms, the northern parking lot lost the use of half its 200 spaces for the summer season. And, in Eastham, Nauset Light Beach lost 10 feet of their bluff in a February storm after losing 18 feet in a storm the previous winter. In what has become an annual event, the storm also swept away the stairs with a replacement cost of over $130,000. This, even as the park planned to replace them with removable stairs, and to rebuild the beach bath house, which stands on the edge of the bluff, in an inland location.
Year in review: Fatal overdoses on rise as fentanyl use increases
January 1, 2017
Deadly waters: 4 drownings mark 2016
January 1, 2017
Brewster beaches have also been taking a beating in recent years, and residents are worried about their loss of access as erosion claims beach parking spaces. After losing a couple of dozen space over the past couple of years, and the whole Paine’s Creek Beach parking lot a few years ago, Brewster used a combination of town and state land to add approximately 100 spaces at Crosby Landing.
In Truro, it was subtraction not addition, as selectmen discussed removing 25 percent to 30 percent of the Ballston Beach parking lot to allow a protective dune to move inland as erosion and storms assail the Pamet River valley.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.