Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why erosion control is needed at Hawksnest

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Erosion and stormwater are one of the largest sources of nutrients to ponds on Cape Cod.   Stormwater runoff causes the erosion, and also caries nutrient-rich debris to the pond--dog waste, human waste, soil, leaves, and garbage.

Nutrients in turn cause toxic algae blooms, and the growth of aquatic weeds that reduce the quality of swimming and other uses.  Once nutrients get into the lake, they are extremely difficult to eliminate.  The pond is degraded forever.  Alum treatment can improve the lake, but it's expensive and has to be repeated periodically.

Erosion around ponds isn't recognized as a problem, because such erosion is normal for the seacoast.  Most people are familiar with ocean beaches, but the ponds are less visited.  So people think erosion around ponds is normal.  In fact, they probably enjoy the enlarged beaches caused by erosion and trampling of shore vegetation.  But the enlarged beach eventually degrades water quality--the very reason they came to the beach.

Previous erosion control projects at Hawksnest

Our approach
  • Use local materials--like logs and mulch.
  • Hand tools rather than heavy equipment--less expensive, less disturbance.
  • Mulch all surfaces--looks more natural, prevents erosion, promotes plant growth.
  • Watch where the rain goes--work with the rain, not against it.
  • Explain what we're doing.
  • Be responsive to legitimate needs of users--we're trying to repair rather than close paths to the pond.
  • Volunteers must coordinate so they don't work against each othe.r
  • All projects are approved by Nickerson State Park's superintendent.
  • We strongly discourage improvement of roads into Hawksnest.  Poor roads are the best conservation tool--they limit visitation and other damage to the park.  But we may make some repairs to roads, only to prevent harmful runoff from roads to the pond.
Plan of erosion control projects at Hawksest, near Round Cove Rd parking.