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The Changing Shape of Siasconset, Nantucket

Sankaty Head Light_George Riethof

Photography by George Riethof

So far, Felch says the tubes have done their job. “I am not a scientist,” he says, “but there is definitely evidence that the tubes have slowed or stopped the erosion at the toe of the bluff.” According to the SBPF’s 2015 summer newsletter, no new erosion has been measured at the toe of the bluff since the tubes were installed, and the organization hopes to install additional tubes all the way north along the coast, from mid-Baxter Road to the lighthouse.

Posner says the tubes represent an environmentally sensitive solution to erosion, and they are installed in an attempt to mimic natural erosion and to prevent harm to local beaches.

Another measure being conducted with the hope of slowing erosion in the area is more of a “grassroots” effort. “There has been an effort to re-vegetate the middle section of the bluff, atop the geotubes,” Felch says. “The hope is that [the vegetation] will hold the sand firmly in place, much like it did back in the 1940s and 1950s when vegetation was strong.”

When it comes to Sconset and Nantucket as a whole, Felch says the best remedy for dealing with the issue of erosion is for island residents to work together. “Erosion is an ever-present issue,” he says. “It will have a big impact on the future of Nantucket. The entire island needs to come together to address the issue. In addition to Sconset, there are other areas on the island, like the downtown harbor, where erosion issues will become a problem someday.”

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