What is the status of the Beach Management Plan?
Earlier this summer, we released a draft of our updated Martha’s Vineyard Beach Management Plan (BMP) to the public and our partners at the local, county, and state level, and asked the community to review, evaluate, weigh in with their ideas, and work with us towards a final plan. We appreciated the feedback, including over 400 survey responses, and many members of the community expressed a desire to have even more voice and input into this planning process. With that in mind, in late July we rescinded our draft beach management plan and began work on expanding our process to allow for more discussion on these complex issues through local collaboration. With this additional collaboration and input through the fall and winter, we will draft a new beach management plan which will be submitted to the Edgartown Conservation Commission, the County and the State. The broader public will have a chance to comment on the plan before it is finalized. The new plan will be put into effect in fall of 2023, at the earliest.
What’s next for the Beach Management Plan?
To create space for more collaboration and input from various local stakeholders who have interest in beach management, The Trustees is convening a working group, facilitated by the Consensus Building Institute, with representation being sought from:
- Edgartown Town officials (Town Manager, Conservation Agent, Conservation Commission)
- Cape Poge and other Chappaquiddick residents
- Members of the MV conservation community
- Members of the Fishing and Shellfishing community
- MV Beach Access Group
- An experienced beach manager from another area in Massachusetts
- Dukes County Commission
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Martha’s Vineyard landowners
The group will meet every three weeks beginning in October and running through the winter. The meetings will be facilitated by the Consensus Building Institute, and written summaries of each meeting will be posted to our website and available to the public.
How can the general public participate?
In October, The Trustees will share a public report that consolidates all the feedback received so far. This report will be posted publicly here on the BMP webpage, and there will be continued chances for the public to weigh in, including, but not limited to, a public meeting in early 2023 where the working group will share an update on their progress. Additionally, the broader public will have an opportunity to provide comment on the revised plan before it is finalized. Information about public meetings will be posted on the BMP webpage, and @TheTrusteesMV social media accounts as soon as it is available.
What is the goal of the working group?
The working group is being formed for The Trustees to better understand areas of greatest concern from representatives of various conservation and recreation interests for The Trustees owned and managed beaches and to surface collaborative solutions for the next draft of the BMP around issues such as bayside Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) access and the dog policy. We aspire to come out with consensus on as many things as possible. While we know we won’t come to full consensus on everything, by pausing to have these conversations we are optimistic that we can come up with a collaborative plan that best balances recreation and resiliency.
When will the new drafted BMP be finalized?
The goal is to have an approved draft that can be approved by the Edgartown Conservation Commission, the County and the State, to be finalized and put into effect by fall of 2023 at the earliest.
Why is this process being managed by The Trustees?
While each stakeholder group appreciates the beaches for various reasons, The Trustees has the overall responsibility of balancing public access with conservation—especially in the face of the unprecedented issues like sea level rise and erosion that accelerating climate change brings to the forefront. As was the case with the initial draft, we remain committed to listening to feedback from all parties and taking their concerns into account before we finalize the upcoming BMP draft.
“For more than 60 years The Trustees has been a successful steward of land on Martha’s Vineyard,” said Trustees President & CEO John Judge. “We remain committed to protecting these dynamic and unique habitats, and the wildlife that calls them home, while also honoring the community’s deep love for the beaches. Our current beach management practices must be changed to reflect the ongoing impacts of climate change like sea level rise and erosion. Together we aim to craft a plan that will ensure that these spaces are best equipped to handle these challenges so the beaches can be enjoyed today and by generations to come.”