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Board of Environmental Protection approves emergency rule for dune restoration

Sand dunes that protect oceanfront property are washing away.
Maine Geological Survey
Sand dunes that protect oceanfront property are washing away due to sea level rise and storm surges.

Two fierce coastal storms last month swept away sand dunes that protected beachfront property.

On Thursday the Board of Environmental Protection approved emergency rulemaking that allows property owners and municipalities to restore dunes without going through the Natural Resources Protection Act permit process.

Rob Wood is with the Bureau of Land Resources.

"If the board were to adopt the emergency rule proposed, that would provide an option for people with dunes in front of their properties that were damaged by the winter storms, to immediately take action to restore those dunes using enhanced restoration techniques and biodegradable materials," Wood said.

The emergency rule allows the use of sand, gravel, plantings and other biodegradable means to restore the dunes but not metal materials. The rule is active for 90 days but the state requires winter work to be completed by March 15.

Town of Wells Selectman Bob Foley says a million dollars of dune restoration efforts on Drakes Island were washed away by the January storms, and using core logs with metal anchors will be needed to keep dunes intact.

"Ninety days is not going to, I mean it'll be helpful, but we're going to be doing this for 2 or 3 years before we have anything back resembling some sort of protection. And let's hope we don't have another storm," Foley said.

Foley says a town water and sewer line running under the Drake Island dunes is also at risk.

The BEP emergency rule means that the Town of Wells will therefore have to go through the Natural Resources Protection Act permit process if it wants to deviate from materials specified for dune restoration in the rule.