Ten Endangered U.S. Beach Towns Named

Ten Endangered U.S. Beach Towns Named
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Camp Ellis Beach, Saco, Maine

Two Mainers await the rising sun in this photograph taken on July 20, 2006.

Eroding several feet a year, the beach here has receded 400 feet (120 meters) in the past century, destroying more than 30 homes since 1968.

The culprit is a mile-long (1.6-kilometer-long) jetty (not pictured) built in the 1860s at the mouth of the Saco River.

The jetty directs sand away from Camp Ellis Beach and out to sea, where it cannot replenish sand washed away by storms. The jetty also directs waves onto the beach, increasing the erosion.

It's not an unusual problem, said geologist Joseph Kelly, of the University of Maine.

He also said he regrets that public funds have been "squandered" to protect small numbers of what he considers poorly placed houses.

"I say 'squandered,'" he said by email, "because the money is ultimately wasted when the projects fail in the next storm."

—Richard A. Lovett

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—Photograph by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/AP
 
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