An old, fragile beach

Summer in RI is usually a time for me to relax, read, and visit with cousins and friends. Instead, I have been busy with volunteer work.

In 1948, after the Hurricane of 1938, a group of people including my grandfather, bought sections of this beach away from a developer. No one wanted to see houses/stores etc on this fragile stretch.

The intent was to conserve it, preserve it, in its natural state as much as possible. We encourage people to walk it, enjoy the scenery, and bird watch. But cars are not allowed on the beach face at all. Limited property owners and a few fishermen are allowed on a sand trail. These people are careful to stay on a sand trail and off the dunes and away from the piping plovers. No one is allowed to leave the sand trail and park on the beach face.

Until 1960 or so, it remained one of the most beautiful beaches in Rhode Island. But it has been discovered. And unfortunately it is no longer pristine.

Ok, some of these photos were taken after a storm, so trucks were getting stuck in the wet sand. But why were they out there to begin with? This is conservation land. Our local and state agencies prohibit driving on this beach face. But no one enforces it. The last photo shows illegal cars parking on the beach. The strip of beach has narrowed, and the dunes are nearly gone.

One day, we’ll have another Hurricane of 1938. The waves may very well wash over and take what little sand there is left. Without protected sand dunes, there’s nothing to hold it back.

Pristine beach sand dunes are nature’s masterpieces, but they are at risk of irreversible damage from cars and trucks. The consequences of this reckless behavior are far-reaching, affecting the environment, biodiversity, and nearby communities.

I am getting too old to constantly be writing letters, taking photos, and worrying about the beach.

Then again, maybe I’m not.

Perhaps this is my life’s work.