Monday, June 14, 2010

State withdraws plan for Round Cove Rd at Hawksnest

The Conservation Commission of Harwich was going to consider the restoration plan for Hawksnest State Park next Tuesday, June 15.  But the State has withdrawn (without prejudice) the part of the plan for Round Cove Rd.  Apparently, they want to provide more opportunity for input by the public.  When there has been sufficient public input, the Round Cove Rd plan may be modified and resubmitted to the Conservation Commission for approval.

The Commission was going to discuss the part of the plan for Round Cove Road, at the SE corner of the pond.  The portion of the plan for restoring erosion on the SW corner, near Walker Rd, was approved at the last meeting.  That portion of the plan involved creating a 5-car parking area, plus rain gardens to prevent polluted runoff from reaching the lake.

The remaining plans (that have been withdrawn) call for restoration of serious erosion at the Round Cove Rd parking area, plus closing that entrance to vehicular traffic.  Pedestrians will still be able to access that area with its trails and swimming beach.

Problems at the Round Cove Rd parking area are what triggered the restoration plans.  The bare, eroding parking area was collecting runoff and shooting it towards the pond--creating an ugly gully leading to the beach, plus a huge, muddy puddle that threatened to break through to the pond. 

It's going to be difficult to restore this area while it continues to see heavy use.  Another reason behind the plan to close the area to vehicles is the unsuitability of this area to heavy visitation.  Bluffs and banks on this side are highly vulnerable to erosion, as shown by the present gully.  In contrast, the other parking area near Walker Rd is not close to a bluff.

Another issue to consider is maintenance of the road to the Round Cove Rd parking area.  If vehicles continue to use that entrance with its terrible road, then pressure for improving the road will increase, with the added expense.  Increased visitation there will only compound the erosion problems.

Out-of-control parties at the Round Cove Rd parking area have always been a concern.  They create a lot of litter and pollution from illegal fires.  These parties are illegal, because the park closes at 8:00 pm, fires are illegal, and alcohol is prohibited.  The parties should be easier to control at the Walker Rd parking area, because police will have easier access to that entrance.  Moreover, the ParkWatch program has been strengthened.

Once the plans are finalized and the current damage is restored, the next priority is to develop plans to protect the shoreline vegetation.  It's this vegetation that ensures the pristine water quality at Hawksnest.

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