Friday, August 21, 2009

Beach project vs. piping plover

So much (bad) stuff was reported at this morning's meeting of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance that I don't know where to begin.

First, those necessary easement docs went out yesterday to 56 or so property owners in Newbury and Salisbury at just about the same time that the Army Corps of Engineers was deciding that they had problems with the basic document.

Second, the state and thus U.S. Fisheries & Wildlife has a problem with part of the Newbury beach being messed with - and it has to do with a certain little bird. The part of the beach in question is where vehicles enter the beach (a part where the dune was bulldozed by a resident, years back and the dune was re-built) across from 26th St., where 27th St. should be but isn't.

Ya gotta love Plum Island. This is all somebody's back yard. Apparently the state - Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, to be specific - believes that although the plovers haven't nested there for 25 years or so, that doesn't mean they wouldn't, if given the opportunity.

And Fisheries & Wildlife isn't going along until Natural Heritage does.

But back to point one: You'd think that easements would not have been mailed out w/out the implicit "go-ahead" by the Corps of Engineers and/or the Corps would not be giving the "go-ahead" and then doing a turn-around, but hey.

The federal government wants DCR to be explicity the entity in charge of the beach after the project is complete, in case Newbury cannot keep it up. The easements as written are between the property owners and the Town of Newbury.

The feds also want the residents to sign off on all those decks, stairways and whatnots that are hanging over the dune being possibly destroyed in the course of the project.

All of everything that needs to be done - permits, easements and whatever DEP comes up with (no one from DEP was there today) - has to be done by Oct. 1 or the project won't be done by March 14.

Why March 14?

Because that's around when that certain little bird arrives on the beach to nest.

And this is not even to mention the $75,000-$80,000 our mayor said it would cost the city to maybe halt the erosion around 56th St., in Newburyport, with sand trucked in from somewhere else. That's with a state match.

My head hurts.

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