Winter Storms Wreak Havoc on Cape Cod National Seashore

Storm damage at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown

WELLFLEET – It has been a relatively mild winter for Cape Cod when it comes to temperatures and snow, but the Cape Cod National seashore has seen some major storm damage.

The Herring Cove Beach North parking lot in Provincetown was almost completely destroyed and the stairs at Nauset Light Beach in Eastham were lost once again.

Wellfleet’s Marconi Beach, which had been left alone for the last four years also lost its stairs.

“We had about four Nor’easters in-a-row and when you get that kind of severe storm action and wave action it really does just scour the beaches,” said George Price, the National Seashore Superintendent. “We’re in a situation where on a year-to-year basis we are dealing with the effects of the storms.”

Price said losing structures like these can have an economic impact on the Outer Cape during the summer season.

“The whole concept of using a beautiful area like Cape Cod for a tourist destination and developing a regional tourism economy around it certainly does depend on access,” Price said.

A price tag for possible repair work this spring has not been calculated, according to Price, but plans are in the works for more long-term solutions for some of the seashore beaches.

Price said the seashore should soon receive an influx of more than $3 million dollars.

“We’re going to have to make a realistic assessment and figure out what’s the best use of our funding,” he said.

Plans call for the north parking lot at Herring Cove to be moved back 125 feet and raised up 15 feet in 2018.

“We believe – even with the most dire predictions – that that should have almost a 50 year lifespan,” Price said.

At Nauset Light, a long-term solution is being discussed to replace stairs with a path through a lower part in the dune.

“What we are trying to figure out, both the Seashore and the towns, county and state, is how do you build smart, sustainable facilities,” said Price. “And that’s true – not just here in Massachusetts – but throughout the country.”


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