Boothroyd Offers Help to Shoreline Homeowners

The Charlestown Town Council hosted an August 4, 2014, workshop lead by Dr. Jon C. Boothroyd, URI Research Professor Emeritus, on a changing coastline. A South Kingstown resident, he has been collecting and studying data on our shoreline for over forty years. Said Roger Greenall, a member of the board of the Charlestown Land Trust and one of the the more than thirty-five in the audience, “He’s a legend around URI, an inspiration, and one of the most respected researchers in his field.

Introduced by Town Council president Tom Gentz, Boothroyd took the audience on a tour of global warming and glacier melt from Antarctica to Greenland and Alaska. He talked about sea-level rise, erosion, storm events, and flooding and had graphs to explain changes in the past 2,000 years and pictures from 1939 to 2014.

Boothroyd had a graph of the increase in CO2 in the period since the industrial revolution. The points used as a reference included the South pole and the Hawaiian Observatory on the Mauna Loa Volcano, a site with such a high elevation and the influence of the jet stream that it most closely approximates the true level of worldwide CO2. The graph moved dramatically with each passing decade, and the increase in CO2 could not be denied. Witty, generous, and respectful of those of us without a background in his field, he delivered the somber news with the powerful voice of science and the compassion of wise soul.

Boothroyd discussed the effects of sea level rise and storms on beaches and dunes, coastal wetlands, and headlands. He cautioned the audience about trying to “fix” wash over fans to restore dunes to their prior height.

Boothroyd demonstrated some positive steps that could be taken. He said a post Superstorm Sandy house on Charlestown Beach could be designed differently with heavy duty cable as a cross brace to counter the effect of storms. The waves would flow by the cable rather than destroy or weaken a wooden brace perpendicular to the wave action. Boothroyd gave credit to Charlestown’s Steve McCandless, GIS, and Matt Dowling, Wastewater Management, for the photo and noted that Charlestown Building Inspector Joe Warner recently used the photo in a presentation at URI on the 2014 Special Area Management Plan (SAMP).

Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz noted that Building Inspector Joe Warner is completing training so he can review Charlestown dwellings for compliance with insurance regulations. Compliance with the regulations may mean a 10 or 20 percent decrease in rates. Steve McCandless explained the future dredging projects in the coastal ponds and noted options for relocating the sand that would be consistent with SAMP best practices.

Special thanks to Town Clerk Amy Weinrich for setting up and monitoring the room.

For those unable to attend the workshop, the Rhode Island Coastal Property Guide may be downloaded at

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