The Vineyard Gazette Media Group

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Voices

Returning to the Sea

Martha's Vineyard's history — specifically, its creation by glaciers — can tell us much about its future in the face of erosion and its inevitable return to the sea, says Graham Giese, director of the Land and Sea Interaction Program, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

 

“The bottom line is, the real decision is, are we going to allow in the future that man is going to be able to protect these investments or are we going to say at a certain point, when the sea taketh, the sea taketh and that is it.”

— Woody Filley, Chappaquiddick resident

 
 

Cow Bay/State Beach Restoration Project

It takes a village, and a fair amount of beach, to tackle a restoration project. But as Tara Marden, coastal geologist for the Woods Hole Group, explains, with the right factors in play, sometimes a beach nourishment program can work even better than expected. For more information see Living on the…

 

“We know that the (East Chop Drive) bluff is pure sand. We’ve had cores done down 40-odd feet and it’s pure sand. There’s nothing holding that there but beach grass and vegetation. So we know we have a problem. So the question is, what has to be done and how much will it cost?”

— Craig Dripps, president, East Chop Association

 

Slowly Slipping Away

In some areas, erosion can be staved. But in order for that to happen, Edgartown dock builder Steve Ewing says, the community and government organizations must come together to plan for, and enact change. For more information see Living on the Edge, a coastal erosion project presented by the Vineyard…

 

“There is no way we can stop what is happening, but what we can stop is inappropriate responses to it…We really have to honor the land that does remain and keep it viable, not only for human habitation but for natural habitation.”

— Sandy Broyard, chairman, Chilmark Conservation Commission

 

Time to Pay Attention

Edgartown dock builder Steve Ewing has been working on the shores of Martha's Vineyard. He's seen plenty of changes throughout the years, both on the waterfront and off, and says bigger changes may be coming. But one thing is for certain, with homes now threatened by erosion throughout the Island, people…

 

“I think it’s time for people to look at some of these bigger pictures. The forces are too powerful. Retreat is the only option. Retreat and retreat more.”

— Jo-Ann Taylor, coastal planner, Martha’s Vineyard Commission

 

Public/Private Interests in the Battle to Save Beaches and Homes

Homeowners have a keen interest in saving their erosion-threatened properties, but sometimes their desires bump up against regulations meant to protect the larger public. Ted Keon, coastal resources director for town of Chatham, breaks down the difficulties in squaring private and public concerns in…

 

“I always think that if you throw your heart and soul into something and work really hard you can effect some kind of change, usually for the positive. I thought I’d done that a lot here. But I’ve given up. Obviously we lost.”

— Clarissa Allen, Chilmark resident

 

Large Scale Beach Nourishment Projects

Tara Marden, coastal geologist for the Woods Hole Group, discusses requirements of a large-scale beach nourishment project. For more information see Living on the Edge, a coastal erosion project presented by the Vineyard Gazette Media Group: mvgazette.com/erosion.

 

“We’re often in the limelight because of the celebrities and politicians that come here, so our real importance to the nation is often obfuscated. Yet these shores were the gateway to European contact, for good and ill, and the beacon on this headland reminds us of the currents of culture that cross the seas to this day.”

— Mitzi Pratt, Aquinnah resident

 

South Shore Tops Erosion Rates

Erosion rates along the south coast of Martha's Vineyard are among the highest on the East Coast of the United States, says Andrew Ashton, coastal geomorphologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. For more information see Living on the Edge, a coastal erosion project presented by the Vineyard…

 

When Is Retreating from Eroding Coastlines Necessary?

Greg Berman, coastal processes specialist for Woods Hole Sea Grant and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, discusses timeframe and cost considerations for necessary retreat from eroding coastlines. For more information see Living on the Edge, a coastal erosion project presented by the Vineyard Gazette Media…