Winds A Danger To Hedges Banks - 27 East

Residence

Residence / 1385764

Winds A Danger To Hedges Banks

icon 16 Photos
Successfully revegetated.   Elizabeth Laytin

Successfully revegetated. Elizabeth Laytin

Looking west.  Elizabeth Laytin

Looking west. Elizabeth Laytin

These trees don't have much holding them upright.  Elizabeth Laytin

These trees don't have much holding them upright. Elizabeth Laytin

Tipping point.   Elizabeth Laytin

Tipping point. Elizabeth Laytin

Erosion undercutting.  Elizabeth Laytin

Erosion undercutting. Elizabeth Laytin

New plantings at Hedges banks.   Elizabeth Laytin

New plantings at Hedges banks. Elizabeth Laytin

The edge of the banks.  Elizabeth Laytin

The edge of the banks. Elizabeth Laytin

An erosion control installation.  Elizabeth Laytin

An erosion control installation. Elizabeth Laytin

View of the erosion, looking east.   Elizabeth Laytin

View of the erosion, looking east. Elizabeth Laytin

New plantings growth.  Elizabeth Laytin

New plantings growth. Elizabeth Laytin

Sand gully under the stairs.  Elizabeth Laytin

Sand gully under the stairs. Elizabeth Laytin

A protected home on the left.  Elizabeth Laytin

A protected home on the left. Elizabeth Laytin

View from the beach.  Elizabeth Laytin

View from the beach. Elizabeth Laytin

Native plants.  Elizabeth Laytin

Native plants. Elizabeth Laytin

Recently installed beach stairs.  Elizabeth Laytin

Recently installed beach stairs. Elizabeth Laytin

Severe erosion creates a major dropoff.  Elizabeth Laytin

Severe erosion creates a major dropoff. Elizabeth Laytin

author on Nov 5, 2012

The fall winds whip through the remaining trees standing precariously at the top of 40-foot-high cliffs along Gardiner’s Bay.

Homeowners along this stretch—known as Hedges Banks—in the Northwest Woods of East Hampton have been struggling for years to find a solution to the erosion. But Mother Nature has a plan to tear away at the roots, the lawns and the frail grasses that line the edge of the precipice.

“It’s got a good rate of erosion,” said Laurie Wiltshire, president of Land Planning Services. “There have been multiple attempts at soft solutions: plantings, biologs,” she said, describing methods homeowners use to protect the cliff from further deterioration.

Materials such as natural fiber, environmentally-sound organic matter, ropes and string are typically used. When these solutions fail, it is particularly distressing, Ms. Wiltshire said.

“These projects aren’t cheap, especially because it’s tall,” she continued, referring to the cliff. “Ultimately a hard solution will need to be used.”

Her company helps property owners obtain erosion control permits from East Hampton Town and the New York State.

Coastal geologist Aram Terchunian of First Coastal Corporation of Hampton Bays also knows the area well. His company recently constructed an erosion control planting on the cliff at Hedges Banks to prevent a homeowner from losing more ground.

“The way you approach bluff erosion is guiding principles,” he said. “Execute a project for a measured level of stability.”

He begins each plan with research, he reported.

“Where are the waves coming from? Is sand being blocked from coming in? ... The basic fundamental dynamics,” he said, adding that a storm with high winds takes the highest toll.

Getting approval involves obtaining five permits: from the town, the Trustees, the state’s Coastal Management Program, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Army Corps of Engineers, Mr. Terchunian reported.

“Every (permit) has to say the same thing,” he said.

Shoring up is limited to primarily soft solutions because hard structures, such as seawalls, are nearly always prohibited. To stabilize the slope in the Hedges Banks area, First Coastal chose coconut jute matting and installed plantings throughout each of its individual squares.

Billy Mack, a partner at First Coastal, always chooses plantings that are native, he said.

“We try to mimic the plantings in the area,” Mr. Mack said. “Beach grass, bayberry, beach plum, rose rugosa and rosa virginica.”

He said the area is very exposed to intense wave activity from the northeast, even though Plum Island does provide some shelter from storms.

“Bluffs fail because of toe undercutting,” he said, adding that the top of the cliff is susceptible to falling in on itself. “The overburden is heavy, especially if it is wet.”

Brian Frank, chief environmental analyst for the Town of East Hampton warns of practices that promote erosion.

“Lawns that go all the way to the edge of the bluff have less of an irrigation system,” he said, adding that trees leaning over from the lawns along the top of the cliff are likely to go over in a storm, though leaf cover and other vegetations helps to keep the land intact.

Mr. Frank reported that there is an “expedited natural resource permit,” requiring no public notice or hearing.

He agreed that hard structures are not good solutions, because they “frequently are going to react with volatility,” and bulkheads, rock revetments and seawalls result in “accelerated erosion on either side.”

“Once you place a structure, you change the dynamics of the area,” he explained. “Waves scour where structures end and in front of it.”

Mr. Frank said homeowners should be proactive, preparing for future problems.

The cost of doing nothing is severe: recent severe weather toppled the trees that were at the cliff’s edge, creating a graveyard of caving sand that is bare to the winds and the waves. Elegant staircases end mid-air, the beach that once supported the bottom steps washed away.

You May Also Like:

Gardening In A Shady Situation

Several years ago I was invited to a charming house in the Village of Southampton ... 30 Jun 2022 by Andrew Messinger

Not Out Of The Woods: Pests Thrive On East End Amid Warming Temperatures

In the early 1990s, Peter Van Scoyoc and his wife, Marilyn, bought 5 acres of ... by Michelle Trauring

Slow Food East End, Peconic Land Trust Host ‘Walk And Wine’ At Bridge Gardens July 12

Slow Food East End and Peconic Land Trust are partnering to offer Walk & Wine at the trust’s Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton on Tuesday, July 12. Garden manager Rick Bogusch will guide the tour of the site’s edible garden from 5 to 7:30 p.m. with local wine from Saltbird Cellars in Peconic. Freshly made bread by Flour Power and Truly Grass Fed will also be served. Slow Food East End is a chapter of Slow Food USA, a grassroots movement to preserve local food cultures and traditions and to promote an understanding of and respect for where food comes from. ... 29 Jun 2022 by Staff Writer

Schumer Says USDA Can Halt Taxation Of Septic Improvement Grants

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop the IRS ... by Brendan J. O’Reilly

Preservation Long Island Recognizes SAAM, Ma’s House

Preservation Long Island, a nonprofit that works to celebrate and preserve Long Island’s cultural resources ... 24 Jun 2022 by Staff Writer

Watch Out For Pests In The Garden As The Temperature Rises

Now that we’re officially into the summer season the weather will assuredly get warmer. For ... 23 Jun 2022 by Andrew Messinger

At Home With Jenny Landey

Location, location, location. The classic real estate mantra suits Sotheby’s agent Jenny Landey in more ... 21 Jun 2022 by Kelly Ann Smith

Westhampton Garden Club Tour Returns July 8

The Westhampton Garden Club’s House & Garden Tour returns on Friday, July 8, after four ... by Brendan J. O’Reilly

Unlimited Earth Care Celebrates Garden Market Opening Saturday

Landscape designer Frederico Azevedo’s Unlimited Earth Care in Bridgehampton will hold an opening celebration for ... by Staff Writer

Oil Customers Should Brace Themselves For Bigger Home Heating Bills Come Fall

The price of home heating oil continues to rise, and many Long Islanders might be ... 16 Jun 2022 by Julia Heming