If you spend a lot of time at Second Beach, you might have wondered if you're getting shorter. According to Rian Wilikinson, chair of Middletown’s Beach Commission, there is no need for concern. It's just that the sand dunes are getting taller.
Wilikinson said the dunes in front of the old concession stand have grown up to 10 feet in just a few years.
Sand was leaving the beach, so around 10 years ago, the town built a 2-foot high mound to see if it would grow.
“It was almost a whim,” said Wilikinson. Nobody was sure if the idea would be successful.
Since then, volunteers and students from St. George's School have planted over 50,000 culms of dune grass, which binds the sand and grows the dune. The growth rate was a pleasant surprise, said Wilikinson.
“Not only do the dunes give the beach a very nice appearance, but they have saved thousands of yards of sand from leaving the beach,” he said.
Without the Dunes, all of the beach’s sand would be across the street, explained Wilikinson.
Although he was hoping to do another planting of dune grass this spring, Wilikinson’s suspects that with the warm weather, the planting will more than likely be postponed until next fall. He hopes to utilize volunteers to help with the effort.
Another technique that is used to keep the sand in the beach are the wooden snow fences. Snow fences, Wilikinson explained, are often used to contain snow drift. The fences serves two purposes: to collect the sand and also keep people out of the dunes.
“As strong as they are, it would be a week or two of people walking on them to ruin them," he said. To help steer people off the dunes, the volunteers have created pathways that provides beach access.
Approximately 5,000 feet of snow fence will be installed to repair the damage from Hurricane Irene last fall. That project is projected to begin within the next couple of weeks by town employees.
"We are almost done," Wilkinson said. "It has been a very successful project."