Why do our beach dunes need to be fenced? Some people don’t like the look of the fencing along the base of our dunes; fencing does detract from the natural sweep of the dunes up from the beach after all, yet they are a necessity to keep people and loose dogs off our fragile dunes.
Why is this necessary? Our dunes are part of a fragile ecosystem that include the beach itself, as well as the back dunes – our dunes stretching to the river are more extensive than you might think – and the rich ecosystem of our Ogunquit river itself, with its shifting tides, shore, river and marsh environments.
Since these fragile ecosystems are all dependent on each other, it’s important to protect our dunes. Beaches and sand dunes need each other — beaches need the dune’s sand reservoirs in order to replenish them after a storm, and dunes need the beach’s sand to form in the first place. Coastal sand dunes suffer from erosion during storms and when people and dogs walk, run, and slide on them. That is why we have posted those, ‘Keep Off the Dunes” signs.
Of course the dune grass helps hold the dunes and sand in place, along with the beach roses and other plants found on our dunes.
But dunes are tempting to people who don’t know better. Campers have been found in our dunes; kids sliding down our dunes while their mom watches in spite of the signs and when told that our dunes are off limits, the mom shrugs, looks at her kids, and says, ‘What can I do?’ Stories such as these are too common.
The best alternative to keep people and their dogs from damaging our dunes is effective fencing to restrict any destructive activity from harming not just our dunes, but our intricate river environments
and ultimately our beach, since it depends in part on the dunes for replenishment.