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Coastal Preservation

The Goldenrod Foundation focuses on stewardship of the coastal ecosystem.  Among the Foundation’s concerns is the impact of coastal “armoring,” such as artificial sea walls and beach dikes, on the fragile habitat of barrier beaches.

Coastal scientists and engineers have documented that armoring beaches with hard structures causes erosion, by disrupting wave action and other natural processes of coastal environments.  The result is to deprive numerous shorebirds of essential ground for feeding.  Armoring also damages beachfront that people use for recreation.   Building artificial dunes can destroy habitat for birds that nest on flat, sparsely vegetated beach.  In southeastern Massachusetts, such birds include endangered and threatened species such as the Piping Plover and Least Tern. Coastal beaches are also essential feeding ground for migratory shorebirds.

Stone Dike Reconstruction
Plymouth Beach 2003
In 2003, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Town of Plymouth proposed rebuilding a 100-year-old stone revetment on Plymouth Beach in wetlands habitat.  The proposed construction would have required 78,000 tons of new rock and stone. The project would have had a significant environmental impact on Plymouth Beach, at significant cost to taxpayers.

The Goldenrod Foundation commissioned a local coastal engineering firm to perform an independent analysis of the proposed project. Ocean and Coastal Consultants concluded that a massive stone barrier was not necessary to protect Plymouth Harbor or its navigation channel.   Based on the scientific analysis, Goldenrod Foundation joined with the Wildlands Trust of Southwestern Massachusetts, Plymouth beach property owners, and a citizen’s group of local residents to oppose the project. 

Together, the grass-roots coalition appealed to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MEPA) under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. The team also filed suit in Plymouth Superior Court asserting that the armoring project violated the Town’s Wetlands Protection Bylaw.

Following these actions, the Town has refocused its efforts on more environmentally sound approaches.


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