Impact & Management: Beach Erosion
Beaches are always in motion, and Fairfield’s have experienced significant change.
Earlier generations of Fairfielders grazed livestock on Penfield Reef at low tide, and removed rocks from the reef for ship ballast, leading to the land’s erosion. Without the protection of the reef, sand shifted to Fairfield’s beach but then continued to move west, despite efforts by individual homeowners to keep it in place using groins and jetties.
In the early 1960s, sand was pumped onto the beach to replace what had been lost. Expected to last for 100 years, the new sand was gone within twenty. In the 1980s, the town planted beach grass and trees in the area between Jennings and Penfield to restore dunes, and the Fairfield Beach Residents’ Association, concerned with erosion for decades, has regularly distributed beach plants to homeowners in order to help stabilize the area.