Mother Nature has made a valiant attempt this year, 2008, to save the sand dune along Youghall Beach. While municipal and provincial leaders debate the best regulations to put in place, an unusually large amount of debris has been deposited which will help to stabilize the beach.

Residents can logically remove the sea garbage which invariably accumulates from irresponsible boaters, shoreline campers, residents, etc. and rake a smooth path to the beach. However. by leaving the wood, seaweed and other natural material, a number of benefits will accrue.

High waves and storm surges will lose much of their force when they encounter the mass of debris and in turn drop their sand load. This will further stabilize the shoreline and actually create a higher beach.

As the debris stabilizes, grasses and other plants will establish themselves to further improve the beach. Sand carried by the wind will fill in along the debris and growing plants. Behind this, cottage properties will be more protected from high tides and waves.

In the early 1950s, the U.S. Corps of engineers were presented with the problem of vanishing outer banks along the Florida Keys. For years, property development has included sea walls of various materials. The Corps was commissioned to carry out a multi million dollar study (US$25 million, I believe) and the conclusion was that sea walls do not work.

Sea walls were removed along the keys and other shorelines, grasses planted and shorelines actually recovered. In cases where a seawall was essential, a "V" shape was recommended with the point towards the water. The standard wall would be used and the "V" sections placed along the wall at intervals. Waves hitting the "V" are diverted sideways and interfere with one another, thus losing their force and drop any sand or debris load they may be carrying.


Here, the sea wall can be seen to be clean and exposed. Typically, the sand levels will continue to fall over time. Breaking waves hitting the wall will continue to remove sand and thus lower the level of sand even further.

Large pieces of debris such as the tree in the foreground will disturb the wave patterns saving and rebuilding the sand behind and around it. And. again, the accumulation of natural material will encourage grasses and other plants to grow and further stabilize the beach.

This property has used vertical posts to help disrupt wave action, again another simple method to stabilize the beach. With a clean beachfront and no beach debris, it can be seen that the wooden seawall which had been buried for many years became exposed and the steps which had to be dug into the sand are now fully exposed as well.

The wooden construction material seen here should be removed but the logs and other material should have been left in place. The good thing in this photo is that sea grass has established in front of the sea wall and the roots will assist with sand retention. Large storms, however, will have no problem uprooting the grasses and eroding the beach further.

So, in summary, this is the worst thing to do. In fact, a couple of years back, the City of Bathurst even considered the purchase of a machine to clean the beach even though at the same time they expressed concern over the disappearance of the dune in the public swim area!