Where in Maine?
Famed for its beach, this picturesque piece of the Maine coast is awash with controversy.
It's all very scenic here on a calm winter's day. But this stretch of coastline is anything but serene. In fact, it may be the most turbulent and controversial section of shoreline anywhere in Maine. Over the past hundred years, the resort community around the corner from this dinghy dock and mooring field has lost close to forty homes and an estimated 4 million cubic yards of sand to the surging tides. (Every year, two or three feet of beach and a house or two wash away.) Whole neighborhoods have been sunk, like so many wrecked ships, since the Army Corps of Engineers built a jetty to aid navigation back in the late nineteenth century. Or at least that's what local residents and many state officials believe. They put the blame squarely on the 4,800-foot rock wall visible at far left, which the corps erected to help commercial vessels navigate through the waterway shown here, one of the state's largest and used to access the industrial and manufacturing centers just upriver. Since the breakwater went in, the patterns of sand deposits and erosion have changed — much to the detriment of homeowners and beach lovers. Winter storms now pound the coast, wreaking hurricane-type havoc and prompting questions about whether houses should even be rebuilt here. But for the first time in decades, residents feel hopeful: the Army Corps, which gradually began accepting responsibility for the situation in the 1990s and has been conducting studies ever since, has promised a public report early this year. Maine Senator Susan Collins, who's evolving as quite a power player in Washington, has called the issue a "priority" and heads up a committee that is hoping to gain congressional approval for $20 million to fund solutions to save the strand. "I really do not believe we can wait any longer," Collins said in a November statement, "and I'm committed to seeing this important restoration project through." Which is music to the ears of area residents. Have you ever visited this beautiful but beleaguered stretch of coastline? Send us a note if you can identify it.