PEI

Fragile shoreline survived high water in P.E.I. National Park

Parks Canada staff are saying the Island's shoreline "dodged one" after last week's high water, with minimal damage to dunes and shore in P.E.I. National Park.

Damage was minimal, thanks to shore ice that buffered waves

Ice along the shore helped buffer the damaging impact of waves. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Parks Canada staff are saying the Island's shoreline "dodged one" after last week's high water, with minimal damage to dunes and shore in P.E.I. National Park.

"I would say we dodged one in this case. It was pretty high water. There was some damage but not a lot," said Paul Giroux, an ecologist with Parks Canada.

Water levels peaked last Friday at 12:30 pm along the park's shoreline, acording to Giroux.

High water rose to the foot of rocky cliffs and sand dunes.

High water swept soil from this embankment west of Brackley Beach. Wind and water are the most common causes of soil erosion. (Patricia Bourque)

Barrier of sea ice

At Covehead, young dunes took the worst of it, with steep cuts where the waves made their mark, but a layer of snow helped protect fragile dune grass and other plant life.

More importantly, according to Giroux, ice along the shore had already begun to form and pile up.

"Shore ice forms a barrier between the waves and the shore," he said.

Dunes move up to 1 metre per year, according to ecologist Paul Giroux. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Keeping an eye on Long Pond

High water did get through in some low lying areas. Park staff are keeping an eye on Long Pond. Flood waters there remain high. Nearby hiking trails could be damaged if waters keep rising.

"We may have to take action, to help that water drain," said Giroux.

High water remains a concern in low-lying areas, such as Long Pond. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A natural process

But high water, storms and the changes they create along P.E.I.'s sandy shore are natural processes. Dunes typically move up to one metre per year, and along some parts of the shoreline, such as the causeway at Robinson's Island, deposits of sand continue to build.

"The beach is actually getting bigger in those areas," said Giroux. "Building and breaking down is part of the normal process on a sand or a coastal shoreline like ours."