Camp Ellis shoreline project hits roadblock
CAMP ELLIS (WGME) -- Over the past century, the surf has swallowed up dozens of homes that used to be along the shore of Camp Ellis. Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided on a plan to slow beach erosion in Camp Ellis. But now, that plan is hitting a roadblock.
The Army Corps of Engineers wants to build a 500 foot rock jetty in Saco Bay to stop the waves from eroding the beach. The Corps also plans to rebuild this entire beach along Camp Ellis. But now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is putting the whole project on hold.
Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned about the impact of the Camp Ellis Beach Shoreline Protection Project on migratory birds; two in particular. The first, the Piping Plover, is an endangered species in Maine. The second, the Rufa Red Knot, roosts on the rock jetty of Camp Ellis.
The Rufa Red Knot suffered population declines in the early 2000's. And the Piping Plover is a federal protected shorebird and on the endangered species list here in Maine. But people here in Saco say that's not the only thing endangered. So is the Camp Ellis shoreline.
Samantha Sawyer says "Camp Ellis is one of those good old home places that you feel the real Maine. It's not these 'McMansions' that are built up. And a lot of real Mainers live here and they make their living here. There are fisherman, lobstermen."
The Fish and Wildlife service want a more in depth study on the possible bird impact. Some in Camp Ellis think that's not necessary, since there is no beach to speak of in Camp Ellis where the plovers can nest. High tide buries any beach in Camp Ellis along with any potential nesting grounds.
Saco Public Works Director Patrick Fox says "Yeah, there currently is no beach. You go right from the water to rock that is protecting the homes that this project will eventually aim to protect." Fox says the city is eager to have a federal shoreline protection project in place.
He says "We're looking for a permanent solution. And if this project can come to fruition and be that solution, then that's what we're working towards." Until then, Camp Ellis homeowners will find their own solution to the flooding problem; higher walls and raising up the foundations of their homes.