SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 24, 2008

Plum Island: Mother Nature, Man contribute to erosion

(Continued)

"After we repaired the jetty, the beach front started to come back," he said.

But that started to change three years ago, Matthews said, when once again he started to notice the deterioration of the beach, the dunes and the grass.

He said he suspects it is because the jetty is once again in need of repair.

"The change has been significant in the past three years," he said.

Local elected leaders, especially Russo, have fought for years to get funding from the federal government to fix the jetty.

But officials, including Matthews, other locals and those at the Army Corps of Engineers, said Plum Island's needs are low on the list of priorities.

"It is a lot of work, but I don't know how else it is going to happen," Matthews said. "Every state along the Atlantic coast is having the same problem. You have to go to Washington. That is where you have to go. That is where they print the money.

"You go down there and make relationships."

Ivaska said, "It seems that we are having great difficulty from the federal government to fix this issue. Nothing seems to be happening."

Matthews said he thinks the situation is more dire now because Plum Island is such huge tax base for the coffers of Newburyport and Newbury, especially with the major investments in recent years.

"I think it is more serious right now than it ever could be," he said. "We need a real program, if you will, of putting sand back on that beach somehow. The problem today is that you have to get in line."

Ivaska said another problem could be the stone groins. There is a series of five — or a groin field — that starts on the beaches of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and goes north.

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