New ideas | "Soft" approach protects beach, too
Three years ago, Puget Sound wound up in John Lewis' yard near Sequim. An extremely high tide, combined with a winter storm, broke through...
Seattle Times environment reporter
Three years ago, Puget Sound wound up in John Lewis' yard near Sequim.
An extremely high tide, combined with a winter storm, broke through a natural ridge of sand that had sheltered his waterfront house and 13 others. Saltwater covered yards 2 feet deep, leaving homeowners fearful of worse to come.
So they went looking for protection. But instead of being protected with obvious concrete-and-rock bulkheads, today their 1,500-foot beach looks much like it did before.
It's actually a carefully engineered system meant to protect homes while also protecting the beach.
Extra gravel was trucked in to raise the berm several feet. Dune grass was planted to help prevent erosion. Massive logs, some chained down, were added to absorb the force of waves and help trap sand, exploiting the natural dynamic of beach erosion and growth.
Such "soft" approaches are rare. But government officials, scientists and environmentalists increasingly promote them as a less-damaging alternative.
In some cases, homeowners have resisted, saying they need a hard bulkhead where waves are particularly intense.
But Lewis' group has been delighted with the results.
"We are very proud of what we've done," said Lewis, president of his neighborhood's homeowners association. "We're very happy with the result."
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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