EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 7, 2013

Editorial: Study will aid understanding of island’s sands

(Continued)

And at the southernmost end of Plum Island, some seven miles from these homes, another phenomenon is being noticed. The island is growing substantially, due to an enormous influx of sand pushed here by tides and currents.

What we fail to see, when we focus on the crisis areas, is the overall picture of what is happening on Plum Island. What we know from anecdotal references is that certain areas of the island see substantial ebbs and flows of erosion. The area around Annapolis Way is one of those areas — in fact, the evidence is starkly clear to anyone who walks the beach.

Within the next year or so, the Army Corps of Engineers will be releasing a comprehensive study of the sand migration patterns on the island. This study will hopefully provide some much-needed analysis and explanation of the forces at work on the island, and will perhaps identify the areas where erosion is most likely to occur. This will be a useful tool going forward. It will perhaps help our local and state officials to make more comprehensive strategies to stave off erosion and save homes. We may need to accept that substantial buffers along the immediate coast must become the norm.

The gradual rise in sea levels may prove all of these efforts to be a losing battle in the long run. But in the short run, a better understanding of all the forces at work on Plum Island will be a useful tool to have.

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