Maryland Department of Natural Resources


Beach changes associated with bulldozing the lower foreshore Ocean City, Maryland

1981, Kerhin, R.T. and Halka, J.

Open-File Report 7


The beach conditions prior to bulldozing (1972-1976) appeared to be generally stable with periods of growth and elevation increases of the upper foreshore and backshore. At four sites the average gain in elevation was approximately +2 feet with a noticeable seaward progradation of the foreshore. During this same time period we were able to document the beach response to two coastal storms (March, 1974 and April, 1975). Beach erosion occurred during these storms but immediately following the passage of the storms, the beach reestablished the pre-storm configuration. It is our contention that the beach configuration was in equilibrium with the processes before and after each storm and was not in a state of deterioration that called for immediate and drastic action.

The bulldozing of the lower foreshore during the fall of 1976 altered the summer readjustment process to produce a profile which was flatter and wider as observed in the 1971-1976 profiles. The beach profile was in a period of readjustment when the first coastal storm passed through the area. The storm parameters were not of such a magnitude as compared with other coastal storms (March, 1974 and April, 1975) to cause the extensive erosion of 12.1 cubic yards per linear foot of beach. In comparison the erosion of Assateague Island, a non-bulldozed reach of shoreline, during the same coastal storm, lost only 7.1 cubic yards per linear foot of beach. It is concluded that bulldozing of the lower foreshore completely altered the profile configuration and adjustment characteristics allowing coastal erosion at a rate greater than anticipated or expected.

The major impact of bulldozing on the beach environment is the change in the natural profile configuration and development of a steeper profile gradient. Given the coastal processes of the local environment, the beach profiles underwent a period of readjustment. This readjustment occurred during the summer months when the natural condition of the beaches is growth and winter repair. The readjustment was continuing when the first coastal storm hit Ocean City. Indiscriminant use of bulldozers does not add to the level of protection generally envisioned.

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Open-File Report 7 (pdf, 1.8 MB)