Cape Cod National Seashore Status Update After Two Major Winter Storms

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Date: February 3, 2015
Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, 508-957-0701

Superintendent George Price announces that Cape Cod National Seashore is open for operation following the intense wind, waves, and weather experienced over the course of two major storms. The Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham, seashore Headquarters in Wellfleet, and all other offices throughout the park are open for business. Seashore road crews are gradually opening other parking lots, including Marconi Beach and Marconi Station Site in Wellfleet, Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro, and Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown.

"I am very grateful to all the park staff who worked during these storms," said Price, "as well as to all the state and town employees who worked on clearing all the public roads to and from seashore facilities."

A review of seashore facilities has determined storm damage to include the complete loss of stairs at Nauset Light Beach in Eastham and substantial damage to the Herring Cove Beach north parking lot in Provincetown. A number of seashore facilities lost power and phone services during the storm, but most services have been restored at this time. NSTAR crews responded to transformer issues at science labs and historic properties in the Truro Highlands Historic District in Truro. Seashore staff will be seeking emergency funding from NPS sources for repairs.

Seashore staff encourages visitors to come explore the trails and beaches this winter by foot, cross country skis, or snow shoes, depending on the snow conditions, and bring a camera or a pet on leash. However, all are cautioned from getting too close to the edge of dunes or cliffs. There has been significant erosion to coastal bluffs and it is not possible to determine from above whether the cliff edge is undercut below, so what appears to be solid footing could easily give way; cliff slides are possible, and would cause great personal harm.

National Park Service staff will continue to consider how to make shoreline facilities resilient and sustainable. Until recent years, the stairs at Nauset Light and Marconi Beaches only had to be replaced every three or four years;now, the stairs at Nauset Light Beach have been lost every year for the past three years. A concept for retractable stairs, which can be removed in the winter and re-installed in late spring, has been proposed to be engineered as a more cost efficient and sustainable method of providing access to this popular beach.

Similarly, yearly repairs to the Herring Cove Beach north parking lot have demonstrated that this 1950s-era lot is no longer a practical visitor facility. Working with the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, the seashore staff has prepared a new design for the parking lot which would be sited 125 feet farther back from the shoreline far enough to provide beach access for a projected 50 year period.

Both of these "storm-smart" infrastructure solutions have yet to be funded, but they represent adaptive responses to shoreline change challenges faced at every level of government.

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Last updated: February 26, 2015

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Mailing Address:

99 Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667

Phone:

(508) 255-3421

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