The state and federal governments have finally given approval to a plan to allow “beach scraping” along a particularly vulnerable stretch of Plum Island after months and months of bureaucratic review, politicking and even some theatrics.
That’s good news. The permit will allow a handful of property owners along Annapolis Way on the Newbury side of the barrier beach to use a bulldozer to push sand from the low tide mark to the bottom of the dune, which will buttress the dune and protect their homes. Beach scraping had been done on Plum Island for years, but was banned by the state over a decade ago. This permit reflects a special case, an experiment of sorts.
Beach scraping buys some time, but it doesn’t fully solve the problem. Plum Island will always be vulnerable to the whims of the sea. While it is hoped that forthcoming repairs to the dilapidated South Jetty will help lessen, or perhaps even reverse, some erosion on the island, there is no true permanent solution.
What the sea has in store for is anyone’s guess. Plum Island is particularly vulnerable to late fall and winter storms out of the northeast, whose winds and rain rip away at the dunes, sometimes for days at a time.
But it’s appropriate to give homeowners a fighting chance to save their home from the elements.