Severe Erosion Closes Public Access To Madaket Beach

Jason Graziadei •

Severe erosion has closed public access to Madaket Beach, where the town has put up signs that read “no beach access.”
Big wave energy during winter storms ate away at the bluff all along Madaket Beach earlier this year, leaving a steep drop-off of 10-plus feet and a shrunken parking area at the popular summer beach and sunset watching spot. The town will not post a lifeguard stand there as a result.
“It’s messy and a very steep drop off,” said Harbormaster Sheila Lucey, who oversees public beach access for the town. “There’s no safe place for us to secure a ramp, it’s too vulnerable. I can’t put it on the overhang because it’s undermined. The dune is too unstable and it would be way too steep. There’s no safe way to do it.”
Lucey said the the town will not put a lifeguard stand at Madaket Beach while the conditions persist, although lifeguards on ATVs will be in the area.
The town’s metal ramp that had been used in previous years to provide safe access from the parking lot down to the beach is chained to the massive driftwood log at the top of the bluff. But is not being deployed, at least not immediately Lucey said, as the summer season arrives. The Harbormaster’s office will continue to monitor the area to determine if conditions change enough to allow the ramp to be set up.
“Over Memorial Day weekend a bunch of people grabbed the ramp and put it up, and it was horrifying it was so steep,” Lucey said. “That’s why we chained it to the log.”
In addition to the signs, the town has erected a new split rail fence to discourage people from trying to maneuver down the face of the bluff. Still, it’s clear that at the southeastern edge of the Madaket Beach parking lot, visitors have already been using a spot that is less steep to walk down to the beach. Even at that area, Lucey said, setting up the ramp is not an option.

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