The Disappearing Beach –

Aerial view of US Corps of Engineers' Townsends Inlet to Cape May Inlet Project (courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers).
Aerial view of periodic nourishment of Stone Harbor. NJ (courtesy of the US Corps of Engineers' Townsends Inlet to Cape May Inlet Project).

More than $2.6 billion has been spent dumping sand onto the Jersey Shore. Was it worth it?

Waves lap up against the narrow shore of North Wildwood as Patrick Rosenello straightens his sunglasses, and leans against the steel seawall, the soft sand crumbling beneath his tan dress shoes.

Quiet as he is, the mayor doesn’t have to utter a word about how important the tiny specks of sediment are to the resort town. His navy sweater vest says it all.

The municipality’s seal features two dolphins flanking the phrase “Sun and Sand.”

The sunshine, he has. But sand? Not so much.

A winter of harsh weather and waves have taken a chunk out of North Wildwood’s 2 1/4 mile coast, leaving massive cliffs and practically no beach in some parts — especially at high tide. In any other year, they would have trucked in sand from sister city Wildwood’s plentiful beaches to replace what Mother Nature washed away. But this year, the beaches were too narrow for the heavy offroad vehicles to get through.

Erosion is Rosenello’s worst enemy.

“It’s getting me from every angle,” says the 50-year-old mayor while standing on a beach incrementally being eaten away.

But the savior always seems to be more sand. In fact, a “beach replenishment” was happening at that very moment, steadily pumping millions of grains of sand slurry onto the shoreline — not in his town but in Avalon just 15 miles away.

This summer, Avalon’s shore will be back to full, offering ample room for beachgoers to lounge on the sand with not an ounce of worry the waves will wash up onto the street.

Like other municipal leaders eager to spruce up their beaches, Rosenello will have to wait his turn.

“It’s worse than that. I can see the dredge from my house,” he says, laughing at the irony. “From the second floor looking out across Hereford Inlet.”

Replenishment — the process of widening the beach by pumping in sand that’s been dredged from offshore and reinforcing dunes to withstand the brunt of nasty storms — is “sacrificial by design” according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The sand is meant to be washed away… video (06-14-2023):
North Wildwood, N.J. faces severe beach erosion and needs sand

North Wildwood, like many Jersey Shore towns, relies on sand replenishment from the feds to keep the beaches plentiful amid worsening coastal erosion. But project delays have local officials worried more of the beach could disappear before they get help.


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