American Samoa

American Samoa

What: American Samoa is an island chain paradise, located about 2600 miles southwest of Oahu, Hawaii, and 2500 miles northwest of Brisbane, Australia. Unfortunately, recent storm activity has resulted in constant erosion of its beaches, especially those located within Pago Pago Harbor, such as Utulei Beach.

Why: Cyclone Evan hit the island in December of 2012. Sea level rise and climate change have caused a large increase in storm energy and water runoff from land to sea.

What you can do to help: American Samoa still has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The island itself hosts a fabulous national park. Book your next vacation at a local hotel here and enjoy the freshest fish you will ever eat. And please help us fund whatever research or technology is necessary to begin reversing the erosion of American Samoa!

 

Respect the Earth | Save the Wave | Heal the Earth

Help us save your favorite beach!

 

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Outer Banks, North Carolina

What: The Outer Banks of North Carolina, plain and simple, are disappearing. Immediately below is what part of the town of Rodanthe looked like after hurricane Irene hit the area. The washed out road, Route 12, is the sole ground route to and from the mainland. Further below on the left is the surf in Hatteras breaking over Route 12. On the right is a closeup of the buckling that occurred all up and down Route 12 as a consequence of the resulting liquefaction.

Why: One longtime resident’s property (far below, left) has eroded the length of two football fields in the last ten years. Hatteras Point (far below, right), commonly considered the best fishing spot in the U.S., is disappearing at an alarming rate. People do not seem to realize that the main factor causing this erosion is man-made — the perpetual dredging of the Oregon Inlet-and that the erosion is reversible!

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Source: http://coastal.geology.ecu.edu/NCCOHAZ/maps/erosion5.html

What you can do to help: Yes, hurricanes and storms in general have battered the Outer Banks since their formation. However, as we explain here, to say the rapid erosion of the area is nature taking its natural course, even if one subscribes to climate change,  is ridiculous. Knowledge is power. Be informed. Please help us get the truth out to everyone– and make them take notice! Please help us fund whatever research or technology is necessary to begin reversing the erosion of the Outer Banks!

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Here’s What’s Happening at the BRF!

Here’s What’s Happening of Late at The Beach Recovery Foundation!

July 7, 2015

The BRF is pleased to be collaborating with France TV 5 on a documentary covering natural threats facing the U.S., (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, erosion, sea level rise). Their East Coast filming will take place on the NY/NJ shore, Outer Banks, and Miami. If you would like to be involved, please let us know.

July 6, 2015

The BRF would like to pay tribute to Judy M. Little (1942-2015). Judy loved the Outer Banks, NC her entire life– from the days of renting cottages while starting a family to finally purchasing a cottage in 1972 and then retiring to Kitty Hawk in 2013. Judy and her family spent most of their lives walking the beaches and swimming the waters of the Outer Banks.  Judy was passionate about the Outer Banks, about Kitty Hawk, about the beaches. She loved them with all of her heart.

July 2, 2015

A shout out to our friends at Pizza e Vita in NYC who agreed to host our upcoming fundraising event. Details upcoming. Below, our staff and interns enjoy all sorts of gourmet pizza.

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Beach Recovery Foundation Design Challenges

Beach Recovery Foundation Design Challenges

The primary cause for the erosion of our coastlines is of our own doing: dredging. When we cut the sea bottoms to make them deeper for boats to navigate, nature immediately attempts to fill them in with our coastlines. Challenges #1 and #2 seek to do away with the need to dredge, if at all possible. Challenge #3 tackles adjusting to sea level rise, while challenge #4 seeks to eradicate the tons of garbage dumped into and poisoning our seas. If you have a unique solution, please let us know!

Design Challenge #1 An Offshore Port

Rather than dig out our shores to allow large boats to dock along our coastlines, why not build our ports where the water is naturally deep enough to accommodate them? According to one industry expert:The estimated overall cost reduction for an East Coast multi-user offshore hub compared to improving existing ports and relying on overland transport would be between 30 to 40 percent for both investment and operations.The historic city of Venice, Italy (below) is currently designing an off-shore terminal to be situated some eight miles off the Malamocco port mouth where the seabed has a natural depth of 20 m.

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Design Challenge #2 A Water Bridge

Harbors provide a safe haven for boats from rough seas. Often these bodies of water can be so secluded that channels and inlets need to be dredged through and between land masses to most expeditiously get the vessels out to sea. Given that conventional bridges enable vehicles and pedestrians to traverse conveniently over water, why not design a bridge that allows boats to easily navigate across intervening land? Germany’s Magdeburg Water Bridge (below) is one incredible example of such engineering, spanning 918 meters, and taking six years to build at a cost of 500 (about $550m US).

While water bridges are indeed possible, their expense doesn’t always make them practical. Surely there are other economical and safe ways to quickly and easily transport boats over intervening land? Might vessels be hoisted up and over land, floating like toy boats in a bathtub? Perhaps they can be latched into some sort of trailer and rolled along a roadway? How about pulled by a cable over a series of rollers?

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Design Challenge #3 A Sea Rise Diverter

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):Sea-level rise is particularly critical for low-lying coral atoll islands, many of which have maximum elevations of less than 4 meters (about 13 feet) above present sea level. The amount of land and water available for human habitation, water and food sources, and ecosystems is limited and extremely vulnerable to inundation from sea-level rise.The images below,taken in 2008 (left) and 2014 (right) on the low-lying shores of Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, attest to the gravity of the situation.

 

Interestingly, though sea-rise is undisputed, scientists have found that of the 600 coral reef reef islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans they analyzed, 80 percent of the islands have remained stable or increased in size (roughly 40 percent in each category). Only 20 percent have shown the net reduction that’s widely assumed to be a typical island’s fate when sea level rises. As it turns out, the vast majority of the eroding islands have been those that have been urbanized, where man has dredged, destroyed the coral reefs, and armored the coastlines. What can we possibly do to reverse this man-made damage?

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Design Challenge #4 Eradicating Ocean Plastic Pollution

The enormity of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been well documented. Our Come with 1 Leave with 2 campaign is one of many designed to slow its growth. But what can be done to clean up what is already out there floating around, poisoning our seas and sea creatures? Do we launch ships with fish-safe nets to gather it all up to recycle (below left)? Do we create stationary devices at sea and let the plastic float to us (below right)? Is there a better way? A better design?

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Come with 1 Leave with 2

Come with 1 Leave with 2

What: The Beach Recovery Foundation’s Come with 1 Leave with 2 campaign is as simple as it sounds: for every one item of trash you bring to a beach, leave with two. If on a beach that generously provides trash cans, pitch in two for every one you bring!
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Why: The world’s largest dump is not on land but in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Commonly referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the various islands of floating debris that comprise it span an area roughly the size of Texas. Sadly, most of the material began its long journey as litter washed off a beach, an easily preventable occurrence.

gpatchbirdPut simply, people litter not because they don’t care, but because they are lazy and rationalize someone must be getting paid to clean up after them. It’s not true, but even if it were, anyone who has ever dropped their keys or jewelry on the beach knows how quickly they disappear under the sand, often never to be seen again.

Fortunately, studies show that litter can be substantially reduced simply by providing an abundance of easily accessible trash cans. That’s why the Beach Recovery Foundation initiated its Garbage In Garbage Out campaign.

BRFCansHow you can help: In areas where trash cans are readily accessible, we encourage you to make a challenge out of picking up as much trash as you can see around you and disposing of it properly.

Artistic rendering of a sample campaign:

See also:

Eroded Values

Eroded Values

What: Our Eroded Values campaign focuses on both how little value we have placed on maintaining healthy beaches, as well as how eroded beaches vastly decrease property values and income from beach-related activities. We throw billions of dollars at dredging projects with nary a thought on how to stabilize the end result– the pumped-on sand quickly washing back out to sea. Worse, digging holes in the ocean destroys our ecosystems in the process. The Beach Recovery Foundation seeks to identify the most effective ways to work with nature, not against it.

Why: A common misconception is that a healthy beach only benefits wealthy landowners or beachfront businesses. Rather, wide beaches and healthy coastlines benefit entire towns by providing natural barriers that protect inland fresh water tables by preventing salination, contamination, and depletion. Beaches and dunes also act as a natural buffer zone, protecting the land, homes, and infrastructure. They serve as critical nesting areas for turtles, crabs, and a wide variety of migratory birds. Shore plants absorb CO2 and nitrogen from the air and chemical laden storm water runoff before it reaches the ocean.

Project Impact Protects People and PropertyMerely throwing sand onto an eroded beach does nothing but make it more aesthetically pleasing until nature quickly washes that sand back into the ocean. For every dredge that brings sand to a touristy beach, a hole is dug somewhere that destroys an ecosystem. Anyone who has ever dug a hole at a beach understands that nature quickly tries to fill in that hole. It should therefore be no surprise to beachfront homeowners living close to dredges why their beaches then quickly disappear.

How you can help: Help us urge lawmakers to allocate a portion of all money spent on dredging to fund research that find ways to work with nature, not against it, to combat erosion!

No Brown in the Blue

No Brown in the Blue

What: The Beach Recovery Foundation’s No Brown in the Blue campaign is about halting the estimated 100 million gallons of storm water runoff that can overload sewage treatment plants, thereby dumping often toxic waste into the surrounding waters. It is also about halting all forms of dumping of waste into the waters, whether at the shore or by boats at sea.

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Why: Sewage and storm water are treated at the same treatment plants in a combined sewer system. When there is too great a storm surge, a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) occurs, causing untreated raw sewage to overflow directly into local bodies of water such as the Hudson River and Long Island Sound[1]. Billions of dollars have been spent upgrading the capacity of treatment plants, but with rising population and unusual precipitation[2], we need to take further action.

garden1The Downspout Disconnection Program in Portland safely disconnected over 56,000 downspouts between 1993 and 2011[3]. Disconnections removed over 1.2-billion gallons of storm water from the combined sewer system each year. We can achieve this even in big cities like New York, though the urban environment will provide engineering challenges not faced by Portland.

One solution for big cities is the use rain barrels connected to downspouts. A rain barrel typically can collect up to 60 gallons of rainwater at a time, weighs 20 lbs empty, and up to 500 lbs full. The captured water reduces storm water runoff, can be used to water lawns or gardens and wash cars, and the water will help to lower water bills[4].rain-barrel

Another solution is rooftop gardens, aka green roofs[5]. For example, New York City provides a Green Roof tax abatement from city property taxes of $4.50 per square foot of green roof, up to $100,000[6].

How you can help: Contact your local Department of Environmental Protection to see if they sponsor a rain barrel or green roof program. If not, offer to help start one!

Sources:

  1. New York Plans Faster Sewage Alerts
  2. National Climate Data Center Statewide Ranks
  3. Portland Downspout Disconnection Program
  4. NYC Rain Barrel Giveaway Program
  5. NYC Green Infrastructure Plan
  6. Using Green Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater