July 9th, 2010 | by Kerry
Okay, if you’ve arrived at this post looking for information about beaches for naturists, sorry, this is not the place! My post today is about “grooming” beaches by raking them and removing not only the man-made junk left by beach-goers, but also the wrack and other natural tidbits carried in by the tides and storms.
Obviously removing people’s trash and garbage from our beaches is a good idea, and I salute everyone who helps keep our beaches clean! Helping reestablish native beach grasses and other native plants can help restore dunes, so these projects can be very helpful.
But sometimes the best of intentions may cause some folks to go overboard in their efforts to make the natural world “neat.” For example, last summer I overheard a very well-intentioned person suggesting that the Town of Ipswich should groom all our beaches by removing not only the trash, but also the seaweed, grasses, driftwood and other things washed ashore by tides and storms.
This would not only be a lot of work, but it would also be a bad idea. The wrack line and natural debris left on the beaches are really important to beach ecology, providing food and habitat for shorebirds and many other creatures. The wrack also helps develop new dunes. Natural beach ecosystems clean themselves. (I am not talking about oil spill disasters here!) Heavy equipment that rakes and sifts sand and removes the natural wrack can uproot plants, disrupt new dune formations, crush eggs and small animals, and damage the beach. Groomed beaches typically have less wildlife than natural beaches.
We are incredibly fortunate to have Plum Island, Crane Beach and several beautiful smaller beaches right here at the eastern end of the Ipswich River Watershed. Now that beach season is in full swing, let’s keep our beautiful beaches clean of people’s trash, and protect and enjoy the true nature of our wonderful coast.
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