Preserving Saco’s charm

By Rep. Barry Hobbins

April 1, 2014

Saco has beautiful beaches and coastline that people from all over come to enjoy every year. Camp Ellis and Ferry Beach are among the nicest shores in the state and Saco should be proud to claim these sites.

However, our coastline has been threatened for decades by a man-made problem. Erosion caused by the Saco River Federal Navigation Project has cost the city and its residents and needs to be addressed.

The Saco River Federal Navigation Project was incrementally constructed between 1828 and 1968 to provide navigation safety at the mouth of the river. In 1968, the north jetty was modified to reduce the need for maintenance dredging.

Since then, more than 30 homes in the area have been lost to erosion. According to the Army Corp of Engineering, Saco will lose over 100 homes and over 170 square feet of land, including the loss of Ferry Beach State Park, over the next 50 years if nothing is done to address the problem.

That’s why my colleagues in the area, including Sen. Linda Valentino, sponsored a bill this session to make it easier for our city to take measures to protect, rehabilitate and maintain our valuable coastline.

The bill, which was recently signed by the governor, will allow our community to maintain its current infrastructure and footprint until a long-term proposal can be arranged.

These are steps that need to be taken to keep Saco from losing more homes, roads and land.

The City of Saco will be able to replace sediment lost from erosion with sand from other sources, restack armor stone on portions of Camp Ellis Beach and maintain, install or replace erosion control structures that are part of roadways and other infrastructure areas.

Also, the Department of Environmental Protection will be authorized to approve an annual maintenance dredging permit for our city over seven years as part of beach sand replacement measures.

Saco’s natural beauty needs to be preserved to be enjoyed by future generations. It would be a shame for our coastline to deteriorate, taking the tourist industry and jobs along with it.

My colleagues and I are excited that this measure was signed into law. Preserving Maine’s natural resources is vital to the economy of our state and the character of our communities.