State Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, secured $100,000 from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) stimulus funds “to nourish and restore beach dunes and coastal habitat on Norton Point Beach in Edgartown,” according to a press release. The funds will be allocated to the Trustees of Reservations, who are working with Edgartown and Dukes County on the project.
“We are at a critical moment in regard to protecting our natural environment on Martha’s
Vineyard,” Cyr said in the press release. “The actions we take now will determine the future of our beaches, dunes, coastal habitats, and overall natural environment for generations to come. I’m proud that we are able to mitigate coastal erosion to protect a precious spot like Norton Point Beach for the ecosystem that relies on the habitat, and for the next generation of Islanders to enjoy and experience.”
According to the press release, Martha’s Vineyard is experiencing some of the highest erosion rates in Massachusetts. Fourteen hundred acres of beach land have been lost since 1897. Three thousand acres of beachfront are at risk of eroding by 2050, according to modeling of future coastal erosion by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Some locations are at more risk, the press release said. One of these areas is Norton Point Beach, which is experiencing increasing erosion rates. There were 74 acres lost between 1897 and 1994 (97 years) and 93 acres were lost between 1994 and 2018 (24 years).
Norton Point Beach faces erosion, and is home to state and federally listed (endangered, threatened, special concern) species. These factors could close off people from the beach, which has annually seen tens of thousands of visitors. The Trustees, the town, and the county are cooperating to make the beach more resilient and protect habitats and public access, according to the press release.
The Woods Hole Group has also identified several ways to address erosion. It developed interventions designed to slow and prevent erosion and over-wash from sea level rise and storm surge impacts, according to the press release.
The Trustees have invested $80,000, alongside additional funds from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, for phase one of the project. The $100,000 secured by Cyr will be used for phase two of the project, according to the press release.