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. This is done through annual maintenance and large-scale analysis, planning, and construction work.
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.
Upcoming Resilience Projects
An exciting aspect of the Woods Hole Group report for increasing the resilience of Duxbury Beach was a list of projects ranging from beach and dune renourishment to salt marsh restoration. These projects are in varying stages of conception, permitting, planning, and fundraising. In 2019-2020, DBR embarked on a new project with Woods Hole Group with funding from CZM to plan and permit for restoration work on a large scale. 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.
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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.