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March 2, 2013

State targets Salisbury erosion

Snow fencing headed for area pounded by blizzard

SALISBURY — State officials are promising to purchase enough snow fencing to protect the dunes at Salisbury Beach after portions of the shore were seriously damaged during last month’s blizzard.

Town Manager Neil Harrington said the day after the storm, he met in Boston with state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport; Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport; and Commissioner Ed Lambert of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation concerning a number of issues related to the state-owned Salisbury Beach, including the recent erosion that has caused concern for many.

Last month’s blizzard gouged out huge sections of the sacrificial dunes that protect beach homes along the east side of North End Boulevard in an area that has not previously experienced such grave problems. Although dune grass held much of the top of the dunes in place, storm surges ate away the slope and midsection of some dunes, leaving 12-foot high cliffs that could collapse in their wake. The cliffs pose a potential safety hazard to those walking on or below them, officials have said.

DCR’s pledge to bring in sufficient quantities of snow fencing to nourish the dunes is a major step in trying to repair the damage caused by nature along the shore. Harrington said the installation of the fencing, which catches and holds blowing sand, will help replenish the dunes as time passes.

The town manager plans to call a meeting of the Salisbury Beach Management Plan Committee to further address the issue. He said he hopes to tap the state’s Salisbury Beach Preservation Trust Fund to help pay for efforts to nourish and protect the beach.

The dedicated fund, proposed in 2008 by former state Sen. Steve Baddour, is underwritten by a $2 surcharge paid by those who camp and park at Salisbury Beach State Reservation during the tourist season. When first implemented, the surcharge was estimated to raise about $250,000 a year. Harrington said the trust fund should have a considerable amount of money in it by now.

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