We don’t often hear good news about environmental issues. I just wanted to share this bit of upbeat progress at Good Harbor Beach. While looking for PiPl tracks yesterday morning, I noticed a huge new patch of American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata) growing at the base of the dunes.
About five years ago (will have to check the exact date), and upon the recommendation of Essex County Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, Dave Rimmer, the City bumped out the dune fencing that runs the length of the beach by exactly 12 feet. Rather than use the slatted fencing, the area was symbolically roped off. This was done after several years of devastating back-to-back storms that had destroyed huge portions of the dunes. The objective was to help restore the dunes.
Because a newly expanded area was symbolically roped off, foot traffic in the dunes was decreased. It doesn’t prevent people and pets from altogether staying out of the dunes but it has lessened foot traffic at the base of the dunes.
Last year, the Plovers symbolically roped off areas stayed up a little bit longer than usual because of our handicapped family. The net result of these actions is that dune grass is filling in and growing in areas where we haven’t seen vegetation in many, many years!!! Why is this so vitally important? Established vegetation leads to bigger, healthier dunes and helps to mitigate erosion from climate change.
Click on the photo below to embiggen and you can see the Plovers symbolically roped off area, the old dune fencing, the more recently roped off dune restoration area, and the area between where the beach grass is now filling in!
Compare to the photos below where you can see the very vulnerable corner of the dune edge by the Creek. The extra 12 foot bump out has not been maintained at this corner and this area is not roped off for the Plovers. Notice how ragged is the edge of the dune and the dramatic increase in erosion that has taken place when compared to the first photo.
In the first photo, you can see the old dune fencing posts are nearly buried by sand because that area of the dunes is being naturally replenished with sand. In the photos below, the same exact posts that were installed at the same exact height are fully exposed by approximately four feet. People sit and recreate right up to the edge of the old fencing in this location.
It’s great to compare how, with only modest effort, we can help protect our shores from the threat of climate change. Have a super day!