Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Need for Sand in Ocean City, Maryland

contact: Stephen Van Ryswick (

(page 1 of 1, 2, 3, 4)

June in Ocean CityMaryland's Atlantic coast is a popular year-round recreational destination. Maryland's barrier island beaches, found on Fenwick and Assateague Islands, are readily accessible to more than 30 million people. Ocean City, the state's only coastal resort, hosted over eight million visitors annually. Of the 40 miles of beaches in Maryland, only about 10 miles are maintained by the state. Ocean City public beaches occupy the entire length 8 miles of Fenwick Island within Maryland. The remaining 2 miles of state-managed beaches are confined to Assateague State Park. The rest of Assateague Island falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

State-maintained beaches Although the state's coastal beaches are immensely valuable resources, they are also potentially an expensive liability. Barrier islands and inlets are ephemeral land forms, but they are often developed as though they were permanent features. Urbanization of these fragile islands may actually enhance their inherent instability by interrupting the natural storage and flow of sand in and around the islands. The natural migration of barrier islands, exaggerated by development and accelerated sealevel rise posses a threat to regional economic and cultural commitments. In Maryland, rapid shoreward erosion of these islands jeopardizes both property and economy. A variety of shoreline stabilization and remediation schemes are available to protect established communities and investments. Beach nourishment is currently one of the most attractive options for barrier island protection.

Because the state beaches are primary economic and recreational resources in Maryland, state and local governments are committed to protect and maintain the state beaches. Massive development on Fenwick Island has both increased the urgency for and, complicated the process of beach restoration. Like many Atlantic coast communities, Ocean City has opted for beach nourishment and dune management as the primary maintenance strategy.
A collapsed beach house

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