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Study Will Look At Restoring Stoney Beach Dunes In Woods Hole

The rundown tennis courts at Stoney Beach might be removed as part of a dune restoration project to protect Woods Hole village from coastal flooding.

Posted on November 2, 2022

Resilient Woods Hole, a group working to prepare Woods Hole for the impacts of climate change, has received state money to pay for a feasibility study for dune restoration at Stoney Beach. Although a plan is not yet in place, a restoration effort would likely include removing the decrepit tennis courts just behind the beach’s small existing dunes.

Stoney Beach operates as a public beach but is owned by the Marine Biological Laboratory. MBL chief operating officer Paul Speer said studies show that the beach is a major flood pathway into Woods Hole village. Enhancing the beach’s sand dunes would provide protection against coastal flooding.

The old tennis courts, which have not been in use for many years, lie a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. Any nonpermeable surface (like a tennis court hardtop) accelerates water flow in the event of coastal flooding, Mr. Speer said.

Although plans for the dunes are yet to be determined, Mr. Speer said it is very likely that the old tennis courts will be removed and replaced with a natural surface. He also said the parking lot might be reoriented.

In addition to protecting the village from flooding, restoring the beach’s dunes will improve the look of the beach, Mr. Speer said.

Mr. Speer said the Woods Hole Group, an environmental consulting organization, would conduct the feasibility study. He did not know exactly when the study would begin, but expected it would be soon.

The dune restoration money was part of a larger $500,000 grant from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Management to fund Resilient Woods Hole’s ongoing climate change preparedness work.

Resilient Woods Hole is a partnership composed of the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Town of Falmouth and other key stakeholders.


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