The Beach Guardian of Niantic Bay

East Lyme Public Trust Foundation Our History

The East Lyme Public Trust Foundation has been very fortunate in attracting volunteers who each bring unique skills to our endeavors.  Jim Gallagher, a retired U.S. Navy civilian oceanographer, can rightly be called our Beach Guardian. He has been a volunteer who has been invaluable to the Foundation in guiding our efforts at Beach Preservation and Beach Grass Planting.

In 2017, Dr. Frank Bohlen of the UCONN Marine Sciences Department recommended to the Foundation several approaches to preserve Niantic Bay Beach.  Under the guidance of Jim Gallagher, the Foundation implemented those recommendations to monitor beach sand changes caused by the natural forces and to adopt a program to explore the effectiveness of beach grasses in retaining sand dunes.

Working with the Town of East Lyme Parks and Recreation Department, the Foundation not only intended to preserve the beach as a recreation resource but also to develop a public educational program of “Beach Dynamics” to help understand and appreciate the natural forces shaping the beach and controlling beach sand volumes.

Using a local commercial survey company, the Foundation conducted many beach sand topographic surveys. In addition, the Foundation solicited volunteers from area school systems to learn beach survey techniques. These monitoring efforts are designed to help the Town and State in avoiding or minimizing costly dredging or resupplying of sand operations.

In addition, in 2016 and 2018 Gallagher engaged students from East Lyme High School and UCONN Avery Point to plant grasses in four selected Dune areas along the beach.  The Foundation has continued to monitor these successful plantings which have been instrumental in helping to build and retain wind-blown sand abutting the boardwalk.

This is only one of the projects that Jim has chaired which has been a gift to our community in preserving our beautiful Niantic Bay Beach.

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