During the DCNR’s annual spring beach walk Wednesday, crews observed heightened levels of sand and beach erosion at several of the peninsula’s beaches.
Matt Greene, Presque Isle Park operations manager, said that a lack of ice during the winter led to increased wave activity, which in turn led to more sand erosion. Greene says erosion was especially high at beach 5 and beach 7.
“We are looking at some pretty significant erosion that has happened,” said Greene. “Coming down in between [beach] six, it is a little narrower than it normally is and then here at seven we have some pretty good escarpments as you guys can see. While [the ice] does do a little bit of eroding…itself, it generally protects more than it erodes.”
The Army Corps of Engineers out of Buffalo joined Greene and others on the annual walk. One coastal geologist says while harsh winters are not well-liked by the community, beaches count on them.
“From a coastal protection standpoint, the ice is our friend,” said geologist, Weston Cross. “[With] very low ice or almost no ice this year, normally we count on that ice to kind of protect the beaches. We are seeing a pretty heavy bit of erosion through the beach five area, that sea wall functioned as it should though, and kept [the waves] from cutting back in the dune.”
As crews examined the beaches and discovered the high levels of erosion, Greene says his mind turned next to a lack of federal funds for sand replenishment.
In early March, the Presque Isle staff learned they would not receive a federal grant for sand replacement this year. And now, with just a few months before the official beach season, Greene says they are working to develop a plan.
“We only have $500,000 in the [sand] project at this time so we are really going to be looking at a plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D to make sure that we have contingencies in place to be able to get done what we need to,” said Greene.