Selectmen Dig In For Answers On Nauset Estuary Dredging Project

Local government struggles with shoreline change.

Ed Maroney
October 5, 2018

ORLEANS — For some, the town's ship of state is hung up on a sandbar, unable to sail through the planning and permitting necessary to dredge the Nauset Estuary and allow commercial and pleasure craft to navigate more easily between Town Cove and Nauset Inlet.

“There IS an emergency in Nauset Marsh,” Charles Carlson wrote to selectmen Kevin Galligan and Mefford Runyon Sept. 3. “Yet, to the best of my knowledge, the town has not made a serious attempt to obtain emergency dredging authority and emergency permission to use the dredged material on portions of the outer beach north of the town beach.”

Similar concerns prompted a summit of sorts at the selectmen's Sept. 12 meeting, which was attended by Leslie Fields, the town's dredging consultant from Woods Hole Group, and local fishermen, boats, and marina owners. Concerns and explanations were exchanged, and it appeared that an all-hands workshop at a special Saturday meeting was needed to focus the effort.

“What our (commercial fishermen) are saying here is that the whole channel system is essentially shut down,” said Selectman Mark Mathison. “If a hurricane takes a right-hand turn and heads this way, and those guys want to get their boats to Mill Pond, they can't do it.” Later, citing concerns by marina owners about recreational boaters going elsewhere to launch, he said, “If two of the biggest businesses in this town can no longer function because there's no viable waterway, that's an economic disaster that's unfathomable to the town of Orleans.”

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