Scarborough Beach State Park Director Greg Wilfert said repair work is nearly complete after January’s storms destroyed fencing, scattered debris, flooded facilities and pushed beach sand down the pathway and into the parking lot. Drew Johnson / Leader

Work is nearly complete at Scarborough Beach State Park to repair damages from January’s storms and a plan to prevent similar storm damage with the use of an artificial dune is taking shape.

The storms drove seawater and beach sand up the long, narrow path to the parking lot. The bathrooms near the walkway to the beach were flooded, as was an equipment shed. The path and lower parking lot were at least half a foot higher due to all the sand, Greg Wilfert, director of the park, said this week.

The path is one of the only areas in the park that isn’t protected by a dune and, because of its funnel-like shape, it is susceptible to flooding.

“That’s the reason Ferry Beach in Saco took a hit,” Wilfert said. “You have that straight path.”

Sand dunes keep sand and water where they belong – on the beach and in the ocean – even during big storms.

“The dunes at Scarborough Beach did their job this winter,” Wilfert said. “We lost 6 to 10 feet of dune depth, but the dunes did their job,” and will have time to naturally recover this summer.


Beaches in the southern part of the country have used artificial dunes with success. At Scarborough Beach, a rectangular box about 10 feet wide and 3 feet tall filled with silt or sand could be placed at the beach entrance to the path. There would still be room for people to walk around the dune box on both sides, Wilfert said.

“If it does its job, then we’ve protected the entranceway and stopped the flooding,” he said.

Meanwhile, the sand displaced in the storms has been returned to the beach and the state park is open for business. The park also lost 90% of its snow and sand fences, and most of those have been replaced. Debris has been cleared and the restrooms and shed have been cleaned up.

More than a dozen trees bordering the parking lot “unfortunately” were cut down, Wilfert said. Because of storm damage, they posed a hazard to parked cars and beachgoers.

“We’re where we need to be but we have a little bit more to go,” he said.

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