Cape officials are looking for help for their rapidly disappearing beaches from the very source of the problem — the ocean.
At a meeting earlier this week, officials from across the Cape met with Cape Cod Commission staff to discuss the possibility of mining sand offshore to renourish sand-starved beaches.
Sand mining is allowed under the state’s Ocean Management Plan, but not for commercial purposes, commission Executive Director Paul Niedzwiecki said. The commission is in the process of mapping areas where sand mining would be prohibited under the marine district of critical planning concern.
The Ocean Management Plan’s main focus has been the placement of offshore wind turbines, but setting locations for potential sand mining is also part of it, Niedzwiecki said.
Commission officials released an initial map, which restricts mining in the habitat of the endangered right whales, for example. But there are plenty of areas on the map that could be considered sources for sand, Niedzwiecki said.
Buy in from the the Cape Cod Commission on establishing regional sand borrow sites is encouraging news which may eventually streamline the process for and reduce the cost of beach renourishment on the Cape. Woods Hole Group has long been a proponent of regional sediment management and the establishment of regional sand borrow sites to address the ever increasing needs for maintaining our eroding beaches, protecting coastal infrastructure, and safeguarding the Cape’s tourism/beach economy.
We will be following this initiative closely and will provide updates as progress is made towards this essential management approach.