Beach Scraping

Artificial dunes as the result of beach scraping
Artificial dunes as the result of beach scraping at Fire Island National Seashore, New York.

NPS photo.

Beach scraping (grading, bulldozing) is the process of reshaping beach and dune landforms with heavy machinery by redistributing sediment within the littoral system. Scraping mimics natural beach recovery processes but increases the rate and magnitude at which they occur. Often, sand is pushed from the lower beach to the upper beach during winter months. The creation of berms (man-made dunes) is intended to protect property from beach erosion, severe storms, and washover events. The man-made dunes may be flattened out during the calmer summer months, providing water views to property owners.

Beach scraping has occurred in private communities within Fire Island National Seashore, located on a barrier island on the south coast of Long Island, New York. Human modification on the developed areas adjacent to the undeveloped park lands can still affect park resources and coastlines. A 2010 study investigating the impacts of beach scraping at Fire Island indicated that man-made dunes allowed more beach material to be transported alongshore, causing accretion downcoast and altering park shoreline morphology. The effects of beach scraping on coastal environments are little known, and this procedure may be harmful to coastal biota and habitats. However, it is suggested that appropriate timing of scraping can avoid or reduce impacts on seasonal nesting species.

Part of a series of articles titled Coastal Engineering—Soft Structures.

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Last updated: April 8, 2019