Historic, unprecedented erosion eating away at Cape beaches

Historic, unprecedented erosion eating away at Cape beaches

ORLEANS, Mass. — This brutal winter has caused historic and unprecedented erosion on the Cape.

Nauset Beach in Orleans is considered by many to be one of the Cape's crown jewels.

"This is the character of the town. You think of Orleans, that's what people think of - they think of Nauset Beach," said Duey Landreth.

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This winter has been particularly harsh on Nauset Beach; erosion is eating away at it and swallowing sand dunes.

"We're looking at probably 20-feet of erosion for this winter already, which is very significant in terms of getting people to the beach," said Nate Sears, Orleans Natural Resources Manager.

Sears says the concrete leeching field has never been exposed before this winter; it's usually buried underneath 5-feet of sand. He says erosion is so bad it will force the town to truck in 10,000 cubic yards of sand. A first.

"You expect to lose some sand annually and gain some sand back in the summer months, but when you have erosion as significant as this, you don't expect to get the sand back in the summer to replace it," said Sears.

The erosion is so significant Sears says the town will likely have to remove part of the parking lot and move the facilities, including the popular restaurant Liam's.

"When you were on the beach and walked to Liam's it was a 2-minute walk, now you could spit from the dune line to Liam's," said Landreth.

The beach erosion on the Cape isn't just limited to Nauset Beach. In Sandwich, Town Neck Beach has also been battered this winter. It's also lost a significant amount due to erosion up to 20-feet so far this winter.