Little Compton beach officials unplug First Creek

LITTLE COMPTON — Anticipating record high tides, rain, and waves with the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, Little Compton Beach Commission officials Sunday took a back hoe and cleared First Creek of sand and cobble, thus allowing water to flow more freely from Tuniper Pond across South Shore Beach to the ocean.

The action was intended to lessen the chances of a destructive breach across the beach, said Pat Griffin, chairman of the commission. Tuniper Pond lies behind and to the north of the beach.

In August 2011 Hurricane Irene had overwhelmed the pond. About 100 yards to the west of First Creek, water had opened up a sizable breach, cutting a channel through the beach parking lot and beach as it found its way to the ocean. At the time, First Creek had been partially blocked by a natural build-up of sand and rocks, impeding flow.

To prevent a recurrence, Sunday’s back hoe work was undertaken.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Griffin said, The Nature Conservancy performed a similar clearing action on Second Creek, which cuts through Goosewing Beach (owned by the Conservancy) a quarter mile to the east of First Creek.

The Second Creek clearing had much the same objective in mind, but was also intended to facilitate the herring run to the ocean from Quicksand Pond, which lies behind Goosewing Beach.

Mr. Griffin, who watched the Second Creek clearing, said “a constant stream of millions of herring, about two-and-a-half to three inches long, went from Quicksand Pond to the ocean. It was a great year for the herring. The black bass were having a party.”

As for Hurricane Sandy’s threat to South Beach, Mr. Griffin said, “we may get trashed a little but I don’t think anything like last year.”

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