BELMAR, NJ — The annual ritual of “closing” the beach for the winter has been completed in Belmar, with one visible difference. There are no temporary dunes on the southern end of the 1.3-mile oceanfront.
Under Belmar’s new beach management plan, the entire beachfront will remain free of these sand berms unless the borough receives the go-ahead from state officials to move them into place should a risk of beach erosion arise from an approaching storm.
“It will be decided on case-by-case basis,” said Public Works director Michael Campbell.“We can no longer put in preventive dunes.”
In recent year, dunes along six blocks of the beachfront have been built as a preventive measure shortly after the end of each beach season — primarily after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey coastline in 2012. However, state and federal environmental officials want to ensure that endangered plants and birds that call the beach home are equally protected.
Last spring, Campbell worked with N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop the 127-page beach management plan, whose goal is “to provide for long-term protection and recovery of listed species populations, while recognizing the need for storm protection and recreation.”
The report, which can be viewed by clicking here, includes the species of endangered plants and birds documented on Belmar beaches, and details the borough’s ongoing beach management and maintenance plan.
During the past two years, the borough has also planted “dune gardens” at the 12th and Fourth Avenue beaches, adding to the growing beachscape barrier designed to help protect the oceanfront from powerful storms.
Meanwhile, Public Works employees have gotten the beach ready for the colder weather ahead. Sand fencing has been erected to help control windblown, drifting sand, and keep sand off Ocean Avenue during storms. In addition, beach lockers have been removed, the boardwalk bathrooms closed, and the beachfront parking pay stations have been covered and won’t be operational until May 1, 2020.