Snow Fencing is the traditional method to restore beach sand dunes. After Sandy destroyed the dunes on Crescent Beach, BIRA raised $12,000 from its members to purchase Snow Fencing and, with the cooperation of the Conservation Commission and other volunteers, installed the fencing the following Spring. BIRA has also purchased Beach Gras Plugs that have been planted along the Corn Neck Road revetment with student volunteers.
The fencing has worked and the dunes have been restored.. However, the problem with Snow Fencing is it is not biodegradable. What we are left with are small pieces of fencing and wire sticking up through the top of the restored dunes which has become a potential public safety hazard.
Chris Warfel researched alternative restoration methods and came up with the jute mat approach. He came to BIRA seeking our support for a pilot project to test if these mats would work on Block Island and we have agreed to reimburse him for his out-of-pocket expenses up to $1,500. The benefits of the jute mat approach are two fold. First, the are biodegradable and will eventually become part of the dune. Second, they are a fraction of the cost of Snow Fencing.