Dune fence in Lewes not sensible

November 29, 2019

The idea of a fence to protect bayfront dunes in Lewes should die a quick death.

The dunes are in better shape now than they have been in half a century. They’ve almost doubled in width in places because of the complicated hydrodynamics of the harbor inside the point of Cape Henlopen.

The first core value in the set of core values adopted by Lewes Mayor and Council many years ago stresses that Lewes has a special and historic relationship with the sea. Putting up a fence would diminish that relationship by artificially separating people physically and visually from the sea.

Yes, there would be breaks in the fence at the street ends where the public accesses the beach. But would there also be fence gaps at every pathway through the dunes from individual beachfront houses that have been enjoyed by property owners and their guests between those street ends for more than a century?

There’s little evidence that these paths, not much more than deer trails, threaten the health of the dunes. But if the goal of the proposed fence is to keep people out of the dunes, allowing these gaps to remain would defeat that purpose.

Signs advising people to stay out of the dunes, along with self-policing by responsible beach users, would be as effective as fencing, without all the major disruption.

Allowing people to continue to store boats and other items in the dunes is another story altogether. Left unchecked, those items can cause damage to dune plantings. Many have been abandoned over the years. The dunes are not a dump.

Tossed by high winds and storms, boats, masts and umbrellas create hazards. The city could make money by installing wooden posts with metal eyes where people could chain their items during the warm months for an annual fee. Those without permits would be removed.

State officials proposing the dune fence need to better define the problems for which a solution is needed. In the meantime, mayor and council should oppose this fence idea that has no apparent public support.



  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, Publisher Emeritus, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, Sports Editor Emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, Associate Editor; Nick Roth, Sports Editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.

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