Salisbury Beach

Lawmakers and scientists seek answers to coastal erosion at Salisbury Beach

"Dunes grow slowly, they erode quickly," environmental scientist Tom Hughes said of the coastline at Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts beachgoers and environmental experts alike can tell something has changed at Salisbury Beach.

Winter storms have eroded away coastal dunes, placing homes, highways and wetlands at risk.



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Environmental scientist Tom Hughes describes a shoreline in flux.

"I see a beach that is relatively healthy, but absent dune volume and height," said Hughes. "Dunes grow slowly, they erode quickly. It's really a matter of weather patterns."

"We need to have a managed beach," Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said Monday, calling for more help for the erosion-hit shoreline in Salisbury

A partial solution to the issue will come this fall. The Healey-Driscoll administration released $1.75 million to help fund a robust sand nourishment project.

"That will provide a major improvement to the dune, raising its height and improving its slope," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, an Essex County Republican. "Those things will help improve its resilience."

With routine maintenance, the additional sand could go a long way toward solving the overall issue, but Hughes says there is still more work to be done.

"We're still pursuing, as a longer term, as the town, a more robust federal project with some level of dredging," said Hughes.

Tarr says the forward-looking perspective is crucial for long-term solutions.

"We have an obligation, both morally and legally, to be good stewards of it," he said.

The fall project is currently going through the permit process, with work set to start in September.

Salisbury Beach residents spent hundreds of thousands to protect their waterfront properties, only to have their efforts washed away by a storm.
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