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Thk report of Mr J. Blair Mason on the conservation of the Ocean Beach Domain and tho protection of St. Clair was submitted to the Domain Board at their meeting on Thursday evening. It> is very comprehensive, and bears internal evidence of careful and intelligent study of a question which is of great moment to the City and suburban population, more especially the residents on the Flat, who are under the apprehension of peril, which may at any time become imminent, unless effective measures are taken to secure the low-lying lands from the possible inroads of the sea. This has been a subject of consideration, discussion, and investigation for many years, and a number of schemes have been proposed, more or less on engineering authority. Nothing practical, however, beyond temporary expedients has eventuated, although in 1892 an Act. was passed to provide for the protection and conservation of the SandhiDs and the Beach adjacent thereto, and for the management thereof as a public domain by a Board created for the purpose. The Board, unfortunately, when duly constituted, were found to be but the mere shadow of a name, being vested with insufficient powers to raise the money required for the exercise of their statutory functions, and they have- conacT ffuently dragged out a feeble existence. The position is now materially altered by the Amendment Act passed last session, under which the powers of the Board are so largely extended that the way seems clear for obtaining the necessary funds by the issue of debentures, secured on the contributions of the lecal bodies, as provided for in the principal Act and the amendment thereof. Finding themselves thus-endued, as it were, with new life, the Board, as a preliminary step, presumably, towards vital action, asked Mr Mason for a report and recommendation, placing in his hands all the information in their possession, including reports and plans by Messrs G. M. Barr, S. H. Mirams, E. R. Usshor, L. H. Reynolds, W. H. Hutcheson, and F. W. Petre, who have reported at different times on the remedial measures needed. Mr Mason commences his report by noting a few points in connection with changes in sand beaches, and proceeds to discuss briefly, in the absence of physical survey, the conditions apparently predominant at the Ocean Beach and St. Clair. Dealing specifically with the Ocean Beach, he considers the present instability to bo due to the alteration of natural conditions from the landward side by the destruction of the original fringo vegetation, especially at St. Clair; loosening and - extirpation of sand grasses by cattle and traffic; removal from the beach of sea-wrack, marine debris, driftwood, etc.; breaking up of sarnie sand crust by traffic; artificial removal of sand; and variations from seaward in the original wave action, caused principally by the re-. ■ moval of rocks at. St. Clair Baths. It is to be regretted, ho says, that no full and ! complete survey, embracing observations on the force and direction of inshore currents, sand movements, etc., is available as | preliminary to the formulation of any improvement scheme, since two classes of sand deposits have to be dealt with—namely, water-borne drift and wind-bome drift.; the quantity of the latter depending on the supply of the first- He inclines to the opinion that the primal ca.ise for the fret- , ting at St. Clair is the displacement of I wind-borne drift from some of tho causes connected with settlement, and no doubt helped by the removal of the rocks at the baths and the efflux of .drainage. The i question of remedial operations, Mr Mason J thinks, is best dealt with under two heads ' ■ —protection and conservation of the Sand- ' hills and Beach; protection of St. Clair and re-erection of the seawall. Of the methods suggested in the reports placed at his disposal, the one which he thinks should be adopted and tried in regard to the SandI hills and Beach is the arrest of wind : borne ; drift by means of wind-brakes inshore of high-water mark; this to be supplemented by promoting sand accumulation by means of groynes extending out beyond high-water mark. He is convinced, he states, that the combination of these two methods will ; accomplish the desired object, and he is therefore, not prepared to advocate walls or embankments as a defence against sea encroachments at tire Ocean Beach. The provision of a seawall for the protection of St. Clair and the Beach is, he proceeds to say, the main or exclusive subject of the reports submitted; and the ch'oice of design or scheme, and location of such, would appear to be the only definite question upon j which the Board require determination. i There are reasons for counselling delay in the construction of walls until the Beach has been raised and conserved, and the raising of the Beach by the interception of sand drift or other means should precede , the erection of tlte Esplanade wall. In order that the Board may possess some general scheme embodying the extent and scope of their probable operations, MiMason submits a summary of his recommendations, together with notes on the future management of the Domain. 'Briefly put, these include tho construction of an experimental groyne opposite St. Clair; a complete survey of the Ocean Beach and St. I Clair; the construction of pontoon or rough j timber, crib groynes for building up the Beach opposite the Sandhills eastward of St. Clair; the establishment of nurseries for the propagation of sand-loving grasses and plants; the erection of barriers for the reclamation of depressions on the Beach, and wind-breaks and artificial hedges for temporary fixing of the sand', preparatory to grass planting. In regard to expenditure, Mr Mason states that he has endeavored to estimate the cost of continuous operations and management on tie lines suggested, as well as that of norHrecurrent works. The total estimated animal expenditure for the period of five years he puts at £I,BOO for the first .year, second year £3,000, third year £1,290, fourth year £1.435, fifth year £9OO. Total non-recurring expenditure, £5,100; management and labor, £3,325; total expenditure for five years, £8,425. This does not include the wall of the F.splanade, which can be constructed of timber at an estimate of £3lO, or, if of cement concrete for sea defence, £1,200. The report will, we presume, be considerad at the next meeting of the | BoaTd, and we shall hear then what tho : members have to say on the financial aspect of the miestkm.' The proposal&.seeia to-be

practical and comrnonsense, involving on the whole- a comparatively moderate expenditure, well -within the Board's borrowing powers under the Amendment Act.

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Bibliographic details

Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 11726, 9 December 1901

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OCEAN BEACH CONSERVATION. Evening Star, Issue 11726, 9 December 1901