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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Stone Harbor Approves Study to Address Shoreline Issues

A Stone Harbor beach reconstruction project underway. The town has commissioned a study to explore strategies to stem the tie of a quickly eroding beach. The hope is that the data produced in the study will facilitate necessary permit applications in the future.

By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – Douglas Gaffney, a coastal engineer from Mott MacDonald, proposed an oceanfront feasibility study almost immediately after he began work as a consultant to Stone Harbor.  

Borough Council approved the proposal that carries an approximate cost of $173,100 June 21. 

The borough’s long beachfront suffers from several points of significant erosion. The problem has been compounded by the fact that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife legal interpretation bars the use of sand from Hereford Inlet for the replenishment of borough beaches. At the point of the last federally sponsored beach replenishment, in 2019, Stone Harbor’s beaches received no new sand. 

The same Fish and Wildlife ban remains in effect today, and complicated and expensive planning is under way to nourish Stone Harbor’s beaches with sand from Townsend’s Inlet, which is miles to the north. Meanwhile, Stone Harbor needs to evaluate actions it might take to reduce the amount and speed of sand erosion in the future. 

The study, expected to be completed by January 2023 with intervening draft reports, will evaluate alternatives for reducing or slowing beach erosion. Gaffney explained that the numerical modelling that will be at the heart of the study will also supply the data necessary for future permits that may be required to execute selected alternatives. 

Currently, the borough lacks flexible permits for beach repairs and maintenance. Its one general permit is scheduled to expire in a matter of months. The goal is to renew the general permit immediately and use the study of potential actions the borough might take on the beachfront to support a more flexible individual permit application. 

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