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Corps of Engineers proposes Camp Ellis Beach shoreline damage mitigation project in Saco

Published April 26, 2013

CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing the Camp Ellis Beach Shoreline Damage Mitigation Project that will stabilize the shoreline at Camp Ellis Beach in Saco, Maine. The Corps, in partnership with the city of Saco, has prepared a Draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment (FS/EA) that examines alternatives to prevent and mitigate for erosion along Camp Ellis Beach resulting from the Saco River Federal navigation project. The Draft FS/EA is available for review at:


Camp Ellis Beach is located north of the mouth of the Saco River in Saco, Maine. The Saco River Federal Navigation Project consists of an 8-foot deep channel that extends from deep water in Saco Bay to a turning basin and anchorage below Cataract Dam, a distance of about six miles. Three additional anchorage areas are located along the channel in the lower river. The channel along this reach varies from 100 to 200 feet wide. The entrance channel is protected by a 6,600-foot long jetty to the north and a 4,800-foot long jetty to the south. Camp Ellis Beach lies adjacent to the north jetty and extends north to Ferry Beach.


“The Camp Ellis Beach shoreline has shown continued erosion since the early 1900s,” said Project Manager Richard Heidebrecht, of the Corps’ New England District, Engineering and Planning Division. In the past 50 years, the Camp Ellis community has lost more than 30 buildings and residential structures, roadways, and public and private infrastructure. Numerous shoreline change studies, conducted by the Corps and others, indicate that the Saco River was the primary sediment source for Saco Bay beaches, and that the primary direction of sediment movement along the shoreline is south to north. Construction of the north jetty has restricted movement of these sediments, and they have not been available as natural nourishment at Camp Ellis Beach. Another major impact is significant wave reflection off of the north jetty onto the beach.


The study objective is to develop a plan to prevent or mitigate the erosion losses caused by the Saco River Federal Navigation project. Numerous structural alternatives were evaluated that addressed the loss of natural riverine sediment supply and reflection of waves by the north jetty. The primary non-structural alternative that was assessed was the purchase and demolition of structures in the area of potential erosion. Extensive coastal modeling was conducted to establish baseline conditions and evaluate alternatives.


“The Federally recommended plan to mitigate further shoreline losses includes the construction of a spur jetty and the placement of beach fill along Camp Ellis Beach,” said Heidebrecht. The recommended plan includes: a 750-foot long stone spur jetty that would be attached to the existing north jetty about 1,475 feet from the shoreline; reinforcement of about 400 feet of the existing north jetty; placement of about 365,000 cubic yards of sand on Camp Ellis Beach; and beach renourishment about every 12 years.


Beach fill placement would occur between Sept. 1 and March 31 to avoid potential piping plover nesting activity. Sand fill would be transported from an upland source by trucks; therefore, no dredging is required. Placement of the rock for the spur jetty and reinforcement of the north jetty is expected to occur from seaborne barges.


The proposed work is being coordinated with: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; National Marine Fisheries Service; U.S. Coast Guard; Maine Coastal Program; Maine Geological Survey; Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Department of Marine Resources; Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Maine Historic Preservation Commission; Maine Department of Transportation; and the city of Saco mayor, city administrator, harbormaster and Department of Public Works.


The public notice for this proposed work, with more detailed information, is available for review on the Corps website at:


Public comments on this proposed work should be forwarded no later than May 28, 2013 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Engineering and Planning Division (ATTN: Mr. Richard Heidebrecht), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751 or by email to



Tim Dugan

Release no. 2013-032