Replenishment work begins on bayside beaches

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Thousands of tons of sand will be added to Delaware Bay beaches under the latest phase of a replenishment project aimed at restoring habitat for horseshoe crabs. Work is under way at Kimbels Beach, and is expected to reach Reeds Beach by the end of the month. Thousands of tons of sand will be added to Delaware Bay beaches under the latest phase of a replenishment project aimed at restoring habitat for horseshoe crabs. Work is under way at Kimbels Beach, and is expected to reach Reeds Beach by the end of the month. MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Work began Monday on Phase 2 of a sand replenishment project on five Cape May County beaches on the Delaware Bay critical to horseshoe crabs, an official with the American Littoral Society said this week.

The $1.65 million federally funded project will finish work begun last year, after Hurricane Sandy devastated the beaches in late 2012.

Phase 2 of the Horseshoe Crab Beach Restoration Project has a goal of establishing pre-Sandy beach profiles on Pierces Point, Kimbles, Cooks, Reeds, and Moores beaches along the bay.

“We started on Kimbles Beach this morning,” said Capt. Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Program Director for American Littoral Society. “We’re placing a coarse-grained sand on the beaches that’s preferred by the horseshoe crab.”

Modjeski said the heavier sand has the added benefit of being harder to erode, but that the primary benefit was to the crab.

“The heavier sand helps them to spawn and breed,” he said.

Modjeski said that about 45,500 tons of dry sand will be placed along the beaches.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department will pay $1.65 million to fund the project, Modjeski said.

The American Littoral Society is directing the beach replenishment, and the society is working on a tight deadline. They have five to six weeks to place the sand, Modjeski said, in advance of the annual horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird migration.

“We have to be done before the horseshoe crabs come,” he said. “Last year, we were able to work until May 7. We hope to be done by then.”

With good weather, the society hopes to have Kimbles Beach finished by week’s end. The target is to be working on Reeds Beach by the end of the month.

Residents of the five beaches received a letter last week from the Littoral Society advising them of Phase 2 of the project. According to the letter:

“Much like last year, (the project) will include the movement of trucks, heavy machinery, and the placement of sand on Pierces Point, Kimbles, Cooks, Reeds, and Moores beaches. Work will be performed daily Monday through Friday, and we intend to make every effort to minimize any inconveniences to you.

“We appreciate your understanding as we work diligently within our small window of time to ensure the future of this important species and the long-term resiliency of the Bayshore community.”

In late 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed more than 70 percent of the horseshoe breeding habitat. In early 2013, environmental groups, including the Littoral Society, replaced about 40,000 tons of sand on the beaches in advance of the horseshoe crab spawning season.


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