Northeast
Nauset Dunes / Cape Cod

Erosion, Bird Nests Restrict Outer Beach Access

CHATHAM – Erosion town officials are calling serious, combined with nesting piping plovers, is restricting vehicle access to North Beach.The front beach from trails 6 to 8 is closed, and there is limited beachfront parking to the north of trail 7.

CHATHAM – Erosion town officials are calling serious, combined with nesting piping plovers, is restricting vehicle access to North Beach.
The front beach from trails 6 to 8 is closed, and there is limited beachfront parking to the north of trail 7. There is no front beach travel north or south beyond that limited parking area. Low beach driving is not allowed as of May 24.

The middle trail remains open through trail 8, said Natural Resources Director Robert Duncanson.

Erosion along the outer shoreline varies, with dune scarps three to four feet high in some places and flat beach in others, he said. In some spots, “there's almost no beach, it's practically back to the dune line,” he said. The radical changes in topography make it necessary to close the entire front beach between trails 6 and 8.

How long that will be the case Duncanson could not say. “We've already seen some changes since we first closed it,” he said Tuesday. Storms could make it worse, but calm weather could built up the beach. “There's just no way to predict.”

Duncanson said he receives almost daily reports on beach conditions from Assistant Conservation Agent Paul Wightman, who also monitors nesting piping plovers on the barrier beach. While there appears to be slightly more nesting plovers than last year, requiring the closure of some trails (some of them are also near the heavily eroded dunes), Duncanson said their impact is no greater than in the past. Several areas where the endangered bird nests are located are marked “no parking/no stopping.”

Vehicles can still travel the middle trail to trail 8 and then proceed south to the tip.

“There's a lot of open area down on the tip that's available to ORV users,” Duncanson said. Beach traffic over the holiday weekend was busy on Saturday and Sunday but less so Monday. “It was probably typical given the weather,” he said.

See Cape Cod Chronicle article . . .