Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sperry Tombolo

The Sperry Peninsula is connected to Lopez Island by a beautiful tombolo and salt marsh. Last month's storm eroded the beach and redeposited the gravel along the fringe of the marsh on the backside of the spit. This probably has happened every ten or twenty years for several thousand years. It may never happen again.

A simple gravel road along the spit has provided access to the peninsula for decades. Undoubtedly, it has been damaged and repaired many times before. But this time, the response appears to have been more substantial, with more rock and a more substantial roadbed. And that moves this spit one step closer to becoming a causeway. The next big storm may still carry gravel and logs over the roadway, but the damage to the road will be more significant and the pressure to protect it will be greater.

For a barrier beach to remain the same, it must be able to move. The answer is less money for road improvements and more emphasis on periodic maintenance. Let the road move with the beach. That way, in a hundred years, it will still be a beach.

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