, Newburyport, MA


January 23, 2014

Our view: On Plum Island, a brief respite from erosion


Fifty yards to the north sat what was called the Buzzotta house, a home that figures prominently in old photos of the island center. It was lost five years ago. And about 100 yards to the south of Bennett Hill sits another old cottage that is also a prominent marker in beach photos; erosion has exposed part of its foundation.

Erosion has ebbed and flowed along this section of Plum Island for as long as photos have been around to document it, but the landward movement of dunes at these marker houses seems to be clear evidence that line is moving inland. What that means for the island overall is something that the experts will sort out. The Army Corps of Engineers has been engaging in a lengthy study of the Merrimack River mouth, the jetties and their impacts on the shoreline. Numerous professionals and well-educated amateurs have been studying these dynamics as well. And those who are interested in sea level rises have been documenting this carefully. The island is one of the most dynamic places for us to observe how our world is changing.

For now, the rock walls seem to be the salvation for the most imperiled stretch of Plum Island. We have a couple more months of bad weather to go; we hope that they will continue to hold.

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