Reducing Vulnerability of Coastal Visitor Facilities, Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, needs to replace visitor facilities along a popular beach vulnerable to coastal erosion and storm impacts. Redesigning this area required collaboration with visitors, town representatives, coastal engineers, and scientists to incorporate visitor use and needs with the realities of coastal change.
Visitor facilities at the park’s most popular life-guarded beach, Herring Cove, were built in the 1950s and included an asphalt parking lot atop the beach and a concrete block bathhouse and concession stand. An artificially high dune was maintained and expanded over several decades through the maintenance practice of pushing windblown sand from the parking lot’s surface to its landward edge.
To address stakeholder interests and needs, multiple public meetings were held by a park advisory commission subcommittee to discuss various redesign options. The park recognized public interest in continuing the beach’s historic use, which included being able to park cars in a location with an ocean view and direct beach access, and the resistance to taking a shuttle bus from a remote parking lot to the beach.
Outcomes and Conclusions
To mitigate impacts of the 1950s construction, the asphalt from the parking lots will also be replaced when Line Item funds become available. In the meantime, as of summer 2015, the park continues to use Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and US Army Corps of Engineers notifications to remove asphalt and repair the parking lot. The artificial dune, which prevented natural beach processes from occurring, will be reshaped to replicate the topography of natural adjacent beaches. This will have the added benefit of allowing visitors to view the ocean from the new parking lot location. The north parking lot will be rebuilt on higher-elevation land (0.3–0.6 m [1–2 ft] above the base 100-year floodplain) located 38 m (125 ft) landward of the prior location, a distance that accounts for ongoing and expected shoreline erosion over the next 50 years due to sea level rise, continental subsidence and major coastal flood events. These calculations were possible in part due to the long-term shoreline monitoring datasets and local expertise available for this coastline.
This case study is part of the 2015 National Park Service report, Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation training in May 2012. The case studies follow the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database, including a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts.
Borrelli, M. (2015). Reducing Vulnerability of Coastal Visitor Facilities, Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts [Case study on a project of Cape Cod National Seashore]. Excerpted from Schupp, C.A., R.L. Beavers, and M.A. Caffrey [eds.]. 2015. Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. NPS 999/129700. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/reducing-vulnerability-coastal-visitor-facil…;(Last updated November 2015)