Massachusetts DEP Approves Sconset Bluff Project

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Massachusetts DEP Approves Sconset Bluff Project
SBPF Project Blends Into the Beach, As Intended

Dear Nantucketer:

I am pleased to report that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) just issued a favorable decision in our appeal of the Nantucket Conservation Commission ruling regarding the geotube system installed on ‘Sconset Beach last winter.  As a result, we expect to be able to both maintain the current system and add the fourth level of geotubes in much of the area we requested in order to provide the full protection in the original design.

The DEP decision indicates that the basic environmental and engineering concerns raised by the Conservation Commission and opponents have been adequately addressed in the program and conditions of the permit issued.  Importantly, the DEP determined that we have a legal right to protect historic homes, and that our project meets the state’s high standard for environmentally sensitive design.

We appreciate the DEP’s fair and expert review of this issue. A copy of the full 20 page can be found here. The decision thoroughly addresses the concerns that have been raised publicly about this project.  SBPF remains committed to both monitoring the project to understand its impact and continuing a program of sand replenishment designed to assure that protecting our area does not result in a loss of beach in other areas. As practical environmentalists, we believe we are setting a high standard for protecting our coastline in a time of sea level rise and climate change in a way that respects natural forces and avoids harm to others.

Moving forward, we hope with this ruling that a new opportunity is created to move beyond legal disagreement and to work with Town officials to learn as much as we can from how this project actually performs.

This victory is a testament to the scientific, evidence-based approach we are taking to addressing erosion along ‘Sconset Beach and Bluff.  We owe much to our environmental consultants, the volunteer leadership of SBPF and the legal team for their thoughtful work on this matter. 

And I would be remiss if I did not also thank our supporters from all parts of the island community. Though the appeal was won based on the legal and scientific merits, we have been gratified by the many expressions of support we receive.  Over 300 individuals signed a letter in support of the project and scores wrote thoughtful comments to DEP showing state officials that this project has broad support. Whether you are a supporter or just interested in keeping abreast of this effort, we appreciate your ongoing interest in our work to find a way to protect important parts of Nantucket from erosion without harming others. In this era of rising sea level and climate change this is an issue about which we all have much to learn.

Sincerely,

Josh Posner

Sconset Beach Preservation Fund 

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