State of the Beach/State Reports/ME/Beach Fill

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Maine Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access52
Water Quality74
Beach Erosion8-
Erosion Response-6
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures3 2
Beach Ecology5-
Surfing Areas25
Website6-


Policies

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"The state does not have a policy for beach nourishment.

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 38, §480. Maine Natural Resources Protection Act (NPRA). Any dredging, bulldozing, removing or displacing of soil, sand, vegetation or other materials within the coastal sand dune system and coastal wetlands require a NRPA permit.

Dredge and Fill Regulations

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 38, §480. Maine Natural Resources Protection Act (NPRA). Any dredging, bulldozing, removing or displacing of soil, sand, vegetation or other materials within the coastal sand dune system and coastal wetlands require a NRPA permit. Filling, including adding sand or other material to a sand dune requires a NRPA permit.

Guides for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances. Section 11. Land Use Standards. Erosion and Sedimentation Control (E). All filling, dredging and other earth-moving activities should be done in a way that prevents erosion.

Sand Scraping/Dune Reshaping Regulations

Guides for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances. Section 11. Land Use Standards. Erosion and Sedimentation Control (E). All grading and other earth-moving activities should be done in a way that prevents erosion.

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 38, §480. Maine Natural Resources Protection Act (NPRA). Any dredging, bulldozing, removing or displacing of soil, sand, vegetation or other materials within the coastal sand dune system and coastal wetlands require a NRPA permit. Filling, including adding sand or other material to a sand dune requires a NRPA permit. Coastal Sand Dune Rules do apply also.

Dune Creation/Restoration Regulations

NRPA Permit by Rule Standards Ch. 305:15,-10,-11. Dune restoration/construction and beach nourishment projects must use sand with texture and color characteristics consistent with natural sand texture and color and minimize damage to existing dune vegetation and follow configuration and alignment of adjacent dunes as closely as possible.

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 38, §480. Maine Natural Resources Protection Act (NPRA). Any dredging, bulldozing, removing or displacing of soil, sand, vegetation or other materials within the coastal sand dune system and coastal wetlands require a NRPA permit. Filling, including adding sand or other material to a sand dune requires a NRPA permit.

Sand Dune Law 38: Regulates dune restoration. State and local dune restoration projects have occurred.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is no state funding program for beach nourishment."

Maine has had little experience with beach fill. The majority of projects within Maine have been associated with the maintenance of federal waterways by the Army Corps, where the most economical method for dredged material disposal was to place the material on the beach. Very few projects have actually been completed specifically for the purpose of nourishing a beach. Currently, small individual beach fill projects with little environmental impact are regulated as "permit-by-rule" activities, see: http://www.state.me.us/dep/blwq/docstand/nrpapage.htm#rule (click on Chap. 305)

Beach fill may be proposed as part of a Section 111 project by the Army Corps of Engineers to combat the erosion occurring at Camp Ellis Beach in Saco. A multi-agency team comprised of representatives from the Corps, state agencies, and local stakeholders is developing acceptable fill sources and project designs.

The Beach Stakeholder’s Group developed revisions to the Coastal Sand Dune Rules which were adopted by the Legislature in March of 2006. Revisions include a new section (section 8) providing regulatory guidance on beach nourishment.

The Maine Coastal Program, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission (SMRPC) have been working on the development of a beach fill policy for the state. It is difficult to compare Maine's sandy beaches with those of any other state given the limited quantities of beaches and subsequent lack of 'natural' sand sources for beach fill. Factors heavily influencing the development of this policy include seasonal restrictions, sediment sources and availability, property ownership issues, environmental impacts, and funding.

Maine produced Protecting Maine's Beaches for the Future (2006), A Proposal to Create an Integrated Beach Management Program. This report was the product of an eighteen month-long stakeholder process, created at the direction of the 2nd session of the 121st Maine Legislature. The report describes existing problems with current beach management and proposes a series of recommendations, including the creation of a new Integrated Maine Beach Management Program. This Program proposes an integrated system of regulations, incentives, public investment and hazard mitigation aimed at improving the physical, economic and environmental quality of Maine’s beaches and the communities where they are located as places in which to live, work and play. This proposed program is compatible with the intent of the Natural Resources Protection Act, which in effect, calls for ongoing continuous improvement to “facilitate research, develop management programs and establish sound environmental standards that will prevent the degradation of and encourage the enhancement of these resources.”

Southern Maine property owners, shoreline business owners, municipal staff, environmental grounds joined SPO, DEP, MIF&W, and the Maine Geological Survey in a multi-stakeholder process to identify common ground, avoid future conflicts, and establish increased protection for Maine's sand beaches. Ongoing concerns regarding beach erosion, property at risk, endangered and threatened species habitat, public access, and the regulation of shoreline development prompted the formation of the stakeholders group. The group's product, Improving Maine's Beaches, was published in 1998. Recommendations included continued planning and implementation activities in the following categories:

  • Erosion
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Economic analysis
  • Flood insurance claims data
  • Hazard disclosure requirements
  • Regional beach planning


A key finding of the report was that regional groups should be formed to create management plans for shared beach systems. A Memorandum of Understanding between the MCP, the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, and the towns of Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Wells and Kennebunk was developed to create a framework for a three-year regional beach management planning process. These regional beach plans are intended to create a common agenda for management of shared sand beach systems. The Saco Bay Plan has been adopted. The Wells Bay and Scarborough Plans were to be adopted as of June 2001. The plans make a range of recommendations, including creation of monitoring programs and public education programs, modification of jetties, and creation of state beach fill policies. Surveys of public access needs were conducted as part of the process.

Information on ongoing regional beach management planning coordinated by the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission is available online via their website at http://www.smrpc.org/

SMRPC is managing a three-year regional beach management project for southern Maine's beaches. The first year focuses on Saco Bay, the second year on Wells Bay and the third and final year on Scarborough and Higgins beaches in Scarborough. Issues to be addressed include coastal erosion and damage to property, wildlife habitat and natural resource protection, economic impact of beaches, geological processes, and coastal regulatory policies. The project is a collaborative effort between local, regional, state, and federal interests. Funding is provided by the Maine State Planning Office and participating municipalities, including Wells, Kennebunk, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Scarborough.

The Saco Bay Regional Beach Management Plan finalized in February 2000, recommends that the Maine Geological Survey develop a sand fill policy for Maine's beaches to ensure that fill projects are undertaken in an appropriate manner, considering bird habitat and natural sand movement processes.

The town of Wells replenished its beaches with sand from a harbor dredging project during the fall of 2000. This project resulted in a cooperative agreement between stakeholders, including environmental interests, businesses, homeowners, and state and federal agencies, to ensure that all interests were represented.

Recommendations of the Wells Beach Management Plan (February 2002) were:

  • Recommendation 1 -- The single most important issue identified by the Committee is the need to maintain existing beaches in Wells Bay. All members agree that beaches with functioning dune systems are better for all interests, as they provide storm protection, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and greater economic sustainability and growth.
  • Recommendation 2 -- A clear policy on beach nourishment practices from Maine’s state agencies will help clarify the feasibility of using this strategy as an alternative to so-called “hard” engineering structures such as concrete or wood seawalls and jetties. All Committee members, however, agree that the impact of the jetties at the mouth of Wells Harbor need additional study in order to determine their impact on the sand budget within Wells Bay.
  • Recommendation 3 -- The most obvious regulatory reform identified by the Committee is the need to clarify conflicts that exist between municipal shoreland zoning ordinances and the state’s sand dune rules.
  • Recommendation 4 -- Another action identified by the Committee to assist with the goal of nourishing beaches is the clarification of existing rules regarding the movement of sand within the beach system from accreting areas to eroding areas.
  • Recommendation 5 -- If beach and dune resources are to be maintained and possibly expanded via nourishment and dune reconstruction, the sand dune rules must ensure that existing dune areas are protected during permitted construction activates.
  • Recommendation 6 -- The Committee also endorses the concept of a beach management fund to create a reserve of monies that would be used to implement the recommendations of the Plan.



Inventory

Several beach fill projects were noted above.

The website of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District includes information on continuing long-term erosion at Camp Ellis Beach and modeling studies intended to help develop solutions. See the Maine Update Report


Information on beach fill in Maine is also available through Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. State-by-state information is available from the pull-down menu or by clicking on a state on the map on this page.

In 2017 the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced a new online National Beach Nourishment Database – featuring data on projects comprised of nearly 1.5 billion cubic yards of sand placed in nearly 400 projects covering the continental U.S. coastline. In addition to the total volume and the number of projects, the database includes the number of nourishment events, the oldest project, the newest project, the known total cost, the total volume and the known length. The information is broken into both state statistics and those of local or regional projects. Every coastal continental state is included (so Alaska and Hawaii are still being compiled), and projects along the Great Lakes are similarly waiting to be added.

A report National Assessment of Beach Nourishment Requirements Associated with Accelerated Sea Level Rise (Leatherman, 1989) on EPA's Climate Change Impacts and Adapting to Climate Change websites notes that the cumulative cost of sand replenishment to protect Maine's coast from a 50 to 200 cm rise in sea level by 2100 is estimated at $119 million to $412 million.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.


Contact

Stephen Dickson, Marine Geologist
Peter Slovinsky, Coastal Geologist
Email: peter.a.slovinsky@maine.gov
Maine Geological Survey
Department of Conservation
22 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333



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