A look at the use of vegetation for the stabilization of coastal bluffs in North Truro, Massachusetts

Snow, Karen E.
Sidney Pilgrim
Department of Environmental Studies
The objective of this project is to consider the validity of using vegetation as a means of stabilizing coastal bluffs. While erosion is an ongoing and dynamic process, several types of options have been available to property owners who are experiencing bluff erosion. Traditionally these options have primarily been hard solutions, structures such as bulkheads, groins, and seawalls. Over the last decade or so an increase in soft technology has occurred, beach fills, stable slope flattening, and vegetation. Field studies in the project area assesses; (1) the types of vegetation presently found on coastal bluffs; (2) the impact vegetation (or lack of vegetation) has on eroding bluffs; and (3) slope angles of bluffs within the study area. There are many factors involved in the process of erosion, many of which are far beyond a property owners, and even the Corps or Engineers control. Factors such as rainfall, wave action, hurricanes, and littoral drift. Though these may not be changed by human influence, their effect on a bluff can be lessened, to degrees, by the planting of vegetation. This project in no way professes an answer to the question of how to stop erosion. On the contrary, this author believes that erosion is, for the most part, unstoppable. However, steps can be taken to lessen its effect.

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