In 2015, Jim Gallagher, a retired U.S. Navy civilian oceanographer and longtime member of the East Lyme Public Trust Foundation, agreed to chair the Niantic Bay Beach Ecosystem Committee which has as one of its goals the monitoring of vegetation and grass planting on the beach at the East Lyme Boardwalk to prevent sand erosion of the man-made Niantic Bay Beach.
Dr. Julianna Barret of SeaGrant at UCONN Avery Point was the mentor for the project who advised Foundation members to plant American beach grass that will take root and stabilize the dunes that abut the Boardwalk.
In 2016 and 2018, students from East Lyme High School and UConn Avery Point helped plant the seedlings purchased by the foundation. This vegetation growth has been instrumental in helping to build and retain windblown sand along the Boardwalk Beach. Parks and Rec. Director Dave Putnam said that his Department will continue to support these efforts which are so vital to beach maintenance.
Overall, the presence of healthy beach grass cover has helped to increase not only accretion and dune buildup but also the formation of a significant sand reserve along the back shore of the beach. From 2016 to 2018, the East Lyme Public Trust Foundation has donated $563 to this project and will continue to support Mr. Gallagher’s project to continue to evaluate the effects of the beach grass plantings.