Barrier Beach Task Force

The Barrier Beach Task Force (BBTF), co-chaired by the Dukes County Manager and an
FOS Director, was established in 1993.  It is composed of members from the towns of
Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, Dukes County officials, Massachusetts Highway
Department, Martha’s Vineyard Commission, state and federal environmental
agencies, Friends of Sengekontacket and other Island environmental groups.
Examples of issues which come before the BBTF are dredging of
inlets, erosion and beach nourishment, recreational use, protection of rare species
during nesting, and handicapped access. The task force meets regularly to address
the development of a long term management projects to protect and preserve the
Joseph Sylvia State Beach.
 
The restoration of the dunes helps protect the pond and the coastal and seaward
shores from storm damage. Today the pathways to the sea are clearly delineated,
with each path entryway marked by numbered post and rail fences installed on both
the pond and Nantucket Sound side, designating access points. State Beach
Informational signs, Beach Regulation signs and Kiosks are being restored. The Dunes
and Beach Restoration Program, started in 2015, is an on-going yearly program
needed to meet FEMA requirements and help address developing climate change
issues.

Damage to The Barrier Beach From Hurricanes and Nor'Easters

Following the partial destruction of the Barrier Beach dunes and beach due to over-wash and erosion from Hurricane Sandy and severe Nor’easters in the fall of 2012, FOS and the BBTF developed proposals to FEMA requesting funding to restore the dunes. FEMA denied funding the project because a recurring yearly plan to replenish the sand or maintain the sand fencing had not been followed since the Mass State reconstruction project in 1996. In 2013, at the request of Oak Bluffs due to budget issues, FOS provided $10,000 for the emergency dredging of the Little Bridge inlet, which had been closed for most of a year and was a great concern was for the health of the pond.

Dunes and Beach Restoration

In 2015 FOS and Dukes County initiated a State Beach Dune Restoration Project. With experts from WHOI Sea Grant Program, we developed a proposal to rebuild the dunes using dredge material from Little Bridge inlet, install sand fencing in critical dune areas and add plant nourishment to develop the vegetation to help hold the newly deposited sand. The plan included yearly beach re-nourishment with sand from the Little Bridge Inlet, fence maintenance and beach grass planting. The plan was approved by MA Dept of Environmental Protection, MA Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Oak Bluffs ConCom in the fall of 2015.

The initial beach sand nourishment and fencing installation was completed during the winter of 2015/16, with new grasses planted in the spring. Several large over-washed areas were replanted by a commercial company. Dukes County pays for the sand nourishment and fencing, FOS provides the management, engineering and vegetation nourishment for the dune development. A review in the fall of 2020 by our consultant from Woods Hole Sea Grant program, confirmed that the dunes have developed beautifully over the past few years. They have grown 10-15 feet in width and built up to the level of the old dunes. The beach grass FOS planted has grown and
helps anchor the dunes. We think this is a positive story of how FOS has contributed to preserve and protect the Barrier Beach and pond.

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Little Bridge Inlet completely filled with sand

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Over-washing during hurricane Sandy

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Dredging of Little Bridge Inlet

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Applying sand to eroded beach & dunes

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Erosion to dunes and fencing from 2018 Nor’easter

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Replanting of beach grass on dunes

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Rebuilt dune in 2020