SOS Saco Bay hosts a conference on coastal erosion Sept. 27. Shawn Patrick Ouellette Photo/Portland Press Herald

SACO — Save our Shorelines: Saco Bay announces its first annual conference on Coastal Erosion at Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center in Saco on Tuesday, Sept. 27. The conference will focus on what organizers describe as the dual threats of climate change and coastal erosion.

Coastal Erosion is a naturally occurring process, but at Camp Ellis in Saco, erosion has been accelerated by a jetty built by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at the mouth of the Saco River in the late 19th century, according to a news release by SOS Saco Bay. The jetty interrupts the normal northeasterly flow of sand, which has resulted in devastating beach loss at Camp Ellis. Since the jetty was built, coastal erosion has claimed 39 homes at Camp Ellis.

In 2007, the federal government allocated $26.9 million for completion of a spur jetty that was proposed to help mitigate beach loss, but that project was never approved. More recently SOS Saco Bay connected with a Florida based company, Living Shoreline Solutions. The company manufactures wave attenuation devices. Wave attenuation devices, or WADS, have proven effective in slowing down wave energy while building up beaches. Additionally, the WADS function as artificial reefs, creating habitat for aquatic plants and animals.

Last fall, Living Shoreline Solutions completed a study at Camp Ellis Beach, and the company proposed constructing a WAD array, about 130 meters offshore. Scott Bartkowski, president of Living Shoreline Solutions, will be discussing his company’s technology and the Camp Ellis proposal at the Sept. 27 event.

Keynote speaker will be Lori K. Gramlich of Old Orchard Beach, who represents House District 13 in the Maine State House of Representatives. Gramlich serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and is a passionate advocate for saving our beaches. Also featured will be a panel discussion dealing with the past, present and future of Saco Bay, live field stations on the beach, and a presentation by Hannah Baranes of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, who will discuss sea level rise projections and impacts.

SOS Saco Bay President Kevin Roche encourages anyone concerned about the impact of coastal erosion and sea level rise to attend the event.

“These are problems that must be met by carefully planned and aggressive measures,” said Roche. “We have assembled a program that will provide guidance for important future decisions.”

“There is a lot at stake,” said SOS Saco Bay Vice President David Plavin. “We feel that what we do here has the potential to help other coastal communities deal with these critical environmental issues.”

Registration for the event is live at both https://sossacobay.com and at ferrybeach.org/sos.

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