Sand lost to erosion being restored at a Delaware Bay beach
3,500 cubic yards of sand at Pickering Beach, southeast of Dover, Del., is being replenished
| October 31, 2022
Walk along a narrow strip of sand between private homes at Pickering Beach, southwest of Dover, Del., and you will find a hive of activity on the beach even though it’s the off-season.
Large earth movers and other pieces of machinery are at work restoring sand lost to erosion on the beach, which is on the Delaware Bay.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control started its “beach nourishment” work this month, with plans to bring about 3,500 cubic yards of sand trucked in from local sources to cover 2,500 feet of community beachfront.
It is an example of the continual and sometimes controversial work that states are doing to prop up shorelines to their pre-climate change levels.
The project and others in Delaware Bay communities are being funded in large part by the American Rescue Plan, the department said.
A total of $1.3 million will be used for small sand restoration projects along Bay beaches, including Pickering Beach, Kitts Hummock, and Cape Shores, in addition to Atlantic Ocean nourishment work at Delaware Seashore State Park’s North Inlet Day Use Area.
“Money from the American Rescue Plan enables us to continue performing these small-scale nourishment efforts both to further fortify some of the more vulnerable sections of Bay beach shoreline and to reinforce the work we’ve recently done in these communities,” said Jesse Hayden, administrator of DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Section.
While DNREC’s beach nourishment projects introduce sand into the shoreline system to offset the effects of erosion, the Pickering Beach and Kitts Hummock projects aim more to strengthen – and lengthen – the life of the projects completed last winter in the same communities.
“Coastal storms will continue to impact our coast, so having the opportunity to supplement some of the most vulnerable areas even after all of the work we did last year means we will be better prepared for the next storm,” Hayden said.
Because both the Delaware Bay and Atlantic beaches and dunes also provide crucial habitat for migrating shorebirds, including several threatened species, and other wildlife such as spawning horseshoe crabs, DNREC beach nourishment projects ordinarily are not permitted to begin until Oct. 1 each year, and must be completed by April 15 at most beaches, or by March 1 at others.
The Bay beach nourishment projects beginning this month are expected to be completed ahead of those 2023 deadlines.