Severe Erosion at Shadmoor

“Significant damage to the bluff trail”
Erosion has carved into the trail in Rheinstein Park, just west of Ditch Plain and has caused significant damage to the bluff trail at Shadmoor, just west of that. Judy D'Mello

Northeasters in the latter half of the winter caused “some significant damage to the bluff trail” at Shadmoor State Park in Montauk, an official with East Hampton Town’s Land Management Department told the town board on Tuesday. 

Andrew Drake, an environmental analyst with the department, showed the board drone video depicting erosion of the bluffs in three places along the popular trail, which the department maintains. The park comprises two parcels, one owned by Suffolk County and one jointly by the town and New York State, Mr. Drake said, calling attention to substantial erosion depicted in the video. In one instance, some 15 feet had been lost from the bluff, he said.

String fencing has been erected to alert those walking the trail atop the bluff, but a more substantial barrier is advisable, he said. The trail would have to be rerouted landward in some areas, and the state and county have granted permission to do so. 

At a third spot, in Rheinstein Park west of Ditch Plain, erosion had carved into the trail itself, which is in a wetland area, Mr. Drake said. A boardwalk may be advisable there, he added. That may require a wetlands permit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and he asked the board’s permission to apply for it. 

People climbing down the bluff to the beach contribute to erosion, Mr. Drake said in answer to a question from Councilwoman Sylvia Overby. She asked what could be done to discourage it, the existing split-rail fencing and signs reading “Caution, bluff erosion” clearly being insufficient. Mr. Drake suggested signs with stronger language. 

The board signaled its support for rerouting the trail and the creation of signs bearing a stronger message to dissuade people from climbing on the bluffs.