Lake Ontario Sand Dunes Slowly Return

Lake Ontario Sand Dunes Slowly Return

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The sand dunes which once sloped gently down to the beach along the shore of Lake Ontario have been replaced by sharp drop-offs.

"You're actually kind of seeing where the top would have been. And that would have come down," said Dave White, recreation specialist with New York Sea Grant.

White helps educate and advise people on how to restore areas of shoreline.

The high waters of this spring and summer on Lake Ontario took their toll on much of the lake's shoreline.

The sand dunes begin just past the Salmon River and run north for 17 miles along the shore to the Black Pond Wildlife Management Area.

Damage to the dunes is nothing new, but in the past it was caused by people or vehicles and wasn't this dramatic.

"When we look at some of these dune profiles and all of the sudden we have these straight walls, it's not new to many of us, it's a more exaggeration of problems we've had in the past," said White.

Now, White and New York Sea Grant are working to help people figure out the next step for restoring the dunes.

Some options might include reinforcing the shoreline with man-made structures or using sand fences, which help collect drifting sand and stabilize dunes.

But it's also a chance to sit back and watch Mother Nature rebuild herself.

"Now with the expansive beach, as that wind comes across, we're already beginning to see sand build up at the toe of the dune that's been eroded away. So, Mother Nature's already beginning to heal herself, and help us in beginning to heal the process," said White.

White says another factor in the dunes returning is having a good layer of ice on the beach over the winter to help prevent more erosion during winter storms.

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