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The Changing Shape of the Cape & Islands: Cape Poge and North Neck, Martha’s Vineyard

The changing shape of the Cape & Islands: Cape Poge and North Neck, Chappaquiddick, Martha’s Vineyard, July 2017 Cape Cod LIFE |

A south-facing view of the Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick. Photo by Josh Shortsleeve

The Trustees are taking steps to prepare for and hopefully prevent some areas where erosion could hit. Tom O’Shea, the Trustees’ director of field operations, discussed the process. “We are targeting areas at risk using scientific models that The Woods Hole Group applied for us,” O’Shea says. “It is not guesswork, but actual science to help us make the right moves in managing that risk.” Based in Falmouth, the Woods Hole Group is an environmental, scientific and engineering consulting organization that does a lot of work pertaining to coastlines. “We may likely need some sediment transport and sand migration studies to better understand potential future shoreline change,” O’Shea says, adding that areas currently viewed to be at risk include the Dyke Bridge and Causeway as well as marshland and trails leading to the lighthouse.

According to these models, O’Shea says there is “zero percent chance” that Cape Poge Light will be flooded due to shoreline change between 2030 to 2070—the date range used in the models. “We are the first conservation organization to use these models,” O’Shea says. “They are allowing us to be proactive and see where we might need to make adaptations. We can choose where to fortify, or to retreat [move a structure away from danger], and where to create and restore more resilient systems like salt marshes and barrier beaches.”

Both O’Shea and Kennedy agree that the use of the models could help other communities facing their own coastal vulnerability issues, and that the Trustees are available to offer their experiences if and when needed.

Chappaquiddick and the stunning Cape Poge entice and enthrall locals and visitors alike with their scenic vistas and natural wonders. The region is changing, though, and those who visit from time to time will notice them, some subtle, others dramatic. Like different areas on Cape Cod and the Islands, Martha’s Vineyard is an ever changing landscape that man is advised to both adapt to and appreciate.

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