The escalation of 10 to 25 years of Cape Cod beach erosion due to a single winter storm has increased the urgency of protecting the Cape shoreline.
While several Cape towns are dealing with similar destruction from the 2013 Blizzard, officials in Sandwich say nature isn't entirely at fault for the problems there. Environmentalists blame a jetty that was constructed to prevent the southerly flow of sand from filling in the nearby man-made Cape Cod Canal. Trouble is, that jetty is also blocking the flow of sand to Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, which sorely needs it. The result is a growing Scusset beach west of the canal, and a rapidly shrinking Sandwich beach to the east.
The Blizzard breached the already fragile dune system in eight places, flooding the marsh on the other side and imperiling buildings in the historic center of town.
According to the Cape Cod Times, the town is seeking federal disaster relief funds dating to Hurricane Sandy last fall. It also earmarked $150,000 from community preservation funds in 2011 for a beach management plan from the Woods Hole Group, which must balance the need of restoring the barrier beach with preserving the habitat of endangered shore birds like piping plovers and terns. After the further destruction of Town Neck Beach from the recent Blizzard, town officials are seeking federal assistance.
If the town is successful in convincing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund and repair the beach, it could mean a federal contribution of as much as 75% of the total $20 million project cost.
The Trustees of Sandwich Beaches has taken the lead in advocating for restoration of the decimated dune system at Town Neck Beach. Their campaign slogan, "It's not the same without the 'sand' " is cleverly woven into their website with signs bearing the town name altered to eliminate the "Sand" in "Sandwich". It's very effective. .
A ten minute video describes the history and nature of the problem. As an aside, the narrator sounds exactly like the films we watched in high school classes in the 1970's. The juxtaposition of his old-school voice and the interview subjects of today is entertaining, but there is good content here.