2010-03-19 / Editorial/Opinion

It’s Time For Dunes To March Down Our Beachfront

Beach dunes are honored throughout the world. In many beach areas in this nation, one can go to jail simply for sitting on a beach dune. Go to the Cape Cod National Seashore or the Outer Banks of North Carolina and see the dunes lining miles and miles of beach, each with a sign stating “Do not touch the dunes.” Dunes are made by Mother Nature. Leave the beaches alone, and you will have beautiful dunes, full of beach grass and other wonderful things. Only in New York City are dunes destroyed in the name of “beach grooming” at the beginning of each summer season. Only in the east end, where the beaches are a hundred yards wide, are the dunes allowed to flourish. Whenever this newspaper runs a story about a lawsuit to do away with the man-made dunes on the west end, we get calls from newspapers in other parts of the nation that consider it a curiosity, as though our residents must be somehow addled and in need of support. They are right, of course, as we learned once again last weekend. On many west end beach streets, the ocean poured into the beach blocks, bringing sand and debris along with it. Only where the dunes held sway was the street clean of both water and sand. It’s the dunes, stupid. Dunes protect the beach and protect the homes of those who live near the beach. We should have more, not less, and the Department of Parks should stop grooming the beaches, instead allowing them to grow wild, nurturing and developing the vital dunes. We understand that the dreaded piping plover might come. We understand that residents will not be able to see their kids on the beach from their homes. We understand that teens will hide behind the dunes to smoke and drink. All that may be true, but the fact is that dunes will save beach sand, beach houses and perhaps even lives in case the “100-year storm” hits our shores. It is time to let dunes do their thing.

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