Status Update Following January 23 Storm

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Date: January 26, 2016
Contact: George E. Price, Jr. , 508-957-0739

Superintendent George Price announces that Cape Cod National Seashore is open for operation following the intense wind, waves, and weather experienced over the past weekend. The Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham, seashore headquarters in Wellfleet, and all other offices throughout the park are open for business. All parking areas are also open.

"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 that the storm caused damage to the Nauset Light Beach stairs in Eastham and substantial damage to the Herring Cove Beach north parking lot in Provincetown. Access to Nauset Light Beach is not available from the parking area;however, the beach can be accessed by hiking from Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, or Marconi Beach, Wellfleet. The Marconi Beach stairs weathered the storm. Seashore staff will be seeking National Park Service funds to rebuild the Nauset Light Beach stairs and to repair the Herring Cove parking area.

In addition, the ocean washed over Ballston Beach in Truro, which has occurred in prior years as well.

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. However, all are cautioned from getting too close to the edge of dunes or cliffs. Each winter there is 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 four 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.

Last updated: January 26, 2016

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99 Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667


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