Coastal Resilience Program
What is Coastal Resilience? Simply put, it is the ability to recover quickly following storm events. As a barrier beach, Duxbury Beach plays an important role in protecting what's behind it - the bays and coastal communities of Duxbury, Kingston, and part of Plymouth. However, Duxbury Beach is very vulnerable. It takes the brunt of the wind and wave energy during storms, particularly powerful Nor'easters due to its northeasterly facing direction.
Duxbury Beach Reservation strives to proactively to strengthen the barrier beach. The idea is that, instead of the beach breaching during the next storm, we will only lose part of the restored dune.
DBR utilizes a nature-based solutions approach to coastal management. This approach involves coastal resiliency projects to create living shorelines using native vegetation and dune and beach nourishment to reduce wave and wind velocity and minimize storm alterations.
To proactively strengthen and preserve the barrier beach, the Reservation works with partners to monitor changes in the barrier beach, model future predictive processes, and analyze outcomes. Large-scale projects are undertaken, supported by data-driven analysis. This continuous maintenance includes materials from fine sand to cobble, beach grass to woody vegetation, and fence installation where appropriate.
Recent and Current Projects
During Spring 2022 Duxbury Beach Reservation implemented several resilience projects targeted at restoring dunes, protecting the bayside of the barrier beach from erosion, and preserving access threatened by stormwater and seal level rise. Currently, DBR is constructing a large dune and beach nourishment project on the northern end of the beach. Learn more here.
Duxbury Beach Coastal Processes and Resilience Analysis
Duxbury Beach Reservation worked with Woods Hole Group, an environmental engineering and consulting firm, to develop the "Coastal Processes Study and Resiliency Recommendations for Duxbury Beach and Bay". This was made possible through grant funding from the MA Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). Woods Hole Group looked at many different factors influencing Duxbury Beach and modeled changes due to future impacts of climate change.
Large-scale Dune Restoration
During the winter of 2018-2019, the Duxbury Beach Reservation took on one of its largest dune restoration projects. The dune construction represented a third step in the process of project conception, design & permitting, and implementation. The construction work was performed by SumCo Eco-Contracting with oversight from DBR and the Woods Hole Group, who also designed the project. DBR received a $500,000 Coastal Resilience Grant through CZM to fund a portion of the $1.4 million restoration work. The project, which covered the dune structure between the first and second over-sand vehicle crossovers represents a portion of the resilience work needed to strengthen and preserve Duxbury Beach. Learn more about this award-winning project here.
Future Planning & Upcoming Projects
In 2019, DBR embarked on a multi-year planning and permitting project with Woods Hole Group through funding from the CZM Coastal Resilience Grant Program to comprehensively address erosion, storm water, and flooding concerns throughout Duxbury Beach. This will allow flexibility and fast action as priority areas shift and funding for construction becomes available. To learn more about the planning and permitting work check out our project page on the website.
With no FEMA or MEMA funding available to DBR for restoration work, community contributions are vital to implementing these projects and protecting Duxbury Beach. Become of part of the protection efforts by giving a gift today.
Click here to
see the latest beach status information
Duxbury Beach Operations Division.
History of Restoration Work on Duxbury Beach
Duxbury Beach Reservation has a long history of observing and thinking about how people and nature impacts the beach and how to stem some of that erosion to preserve the beach.
Early work to mitigate erosion came after a three day nor’easter in 1933 when material that broke off the damaged Powder Point Bridge was used to construct a fence intended to act as a “sand catcher.” In the 1960s trustees and Duxbury town officials realized how detrimental human recreation, particularly driving could be to the beach. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, a number of new methods were put in place, including attaching sand fencing to the Coast Guard poles running to Gurnet, placing Christmas trees to trap the sand, and planting beach grass and woody shrubs. Some of these methods have continued and developed with time and testing, such as sand fencing and plantings, while others have been deemed less useful and potentially detrimental, like the use of Christmas trees to build dunes.
The Blizzard of 1978 put much of this erosion control work to the test. Although major repairs were needed, the Reservation noted that in the areas where snow fence and beach grass had been, the damage was considerably less. Again, the Reservation rebuilt the dunes and road, installed sand fence and planted beach grass to stabilize the dune. Recognizing the need for more extensive resilience work, the Reservation constructed the first “sacrificial dune” on Duxbury Beach following the “No-Name” storm of 1991. In recent years, the Reservation has continued to test new methods of dune preservation using rows of snow fence, differing patterns of grass planting, and cobble berms to prevent the back road from eroding on the bayside. The Reservation is constantly looking toward new technology and research for improving and protecting the beach while retaining its natural character.
To read more about the history of Duxbury Beach and the efforts to protect it, check out our History page or order a copy of the "Duxbury Beach Book".