The Beach Recovery Foundation (BRF) was founded in 2012 by necessity. Its roots date back to 2002 when founder Gregory Sarno observed his beachfront property in Fairfield, CT continually erode with each passing year and storm. Greg began to research groins, seawalls, breakwaters and other technology touted to prevent beach erosion. He quickly discovered that, despite their widespread use, none of these hard structures had ever been proven to be effective.
Numerous first-person accounts of how the older generations could walk seemingly forever out to sea at low tide made it obvious to Greg that something had caused the sea bottoms to increasingly deepen. Upon investigation, in each and every instance, he uncovered man-made alterations to the surrounding landscape, the most prevalent being from the construction and maintenance of navigation inlets. Nature was simply filling in the hole that man had made by grabbing sand from the neighboring areas, both on and off shore. This deepening in the sea bottoms allowed waves to crash harder and closer to shore, the force of which ripped even more sand off the beaches.
Greg reasoned that if the sea bottoms could be restored to their natural state, nature would once again begin to rebuild the beaches” accretion as opposed to erosion. Thus began his search for what he called an ‘accretion engineering’ approach to reversing erosion. He found one such a solution by a man who, almost single-handedly, had been fixing beaches for nearly 30 years. Greg was determined to bring this technology to the masses.
For better or worse, over those 40 years, mountains of new legislation had passed, requiring any implementer of ‘novel’ technology to not just show that it worked, but to present detailed studies of how and why it worked. To the inventor of this accretion engineering solution, it was akin to asking a farmer to scientifically justify why his crops were successful year after year before he was allowed to plant another one. To Greg, it meant finding a way to raise money to fund such studies by qualified coastal engineers, in the hope of one day re-implementing it.
As the owner and operator of a family mall, Greg’s first attempt at raising money to fund accretion engineering studies was to create the Beach Recovery Café” at first a coffee shop and later a wine bar where all profits would go to fund such research. It soon became clear that unless Greg franchised the wine bar, a business that in and of itself did not interest him, he could not possibly generate the money necessary to fund the necessary studies. And what if there were an even better environmental solution? What about finding solutions to creating and maintaining healthy dune structures? It became obvious the only solution would be for Greg to quit his family job, close down the wine bar, and devote 100% of his time to his passion: environmental conservation. The result is the Beach Recovery Foundation.