NETCO Construction Project Managers, Inc.
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April 2014

This edition of the NETCO Beach Newsletter focuses on the types and uses of sand drift fencing. Be sure to take a look at Beach Notes for interesting news items.  We hope you find our newsletter enjoyable and informative and, as always, we appreciate your feedback.


Sand Drift Fencing-Types and Purposes

Sand drift fencing can take many forms and shapes.  It can also be made from several different

materials.  But in the end, sand drift fencing is primarily about accreting windblown sand to augment dune reconstruction and/or to increase vertical beach elevation or horizontal width of a dune.  Additional uses of sand drift fencing include the reduction of  wave and surf energy during the up-rush and back-rush of storm surf, and as a means to protect soft erosion control structures such as coir envelopes, geotubes, and other non-rock and concrete structures from damage due to storm surf carried debris.


The simplest and least costly type of sand drift fencing is wood and wire snow fence.  Installed in a zig zag pattern on the back side of a wide beach, wood and wire snow fence (right) is an excellent and low cost means to catch and hold sand on a coastal dune or coastal bank toe.  The photos of the fence at Charlestown Beach, RI are an example of the proper application of wood and wire snow fence.  Note that the only time wave and surf will reach this fence installation will be during a very large and intense storm, such as Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) or the nor'easter Nemo (March 2013).


Fortunately, before either of these storms hit, the drift fence on Charlestown Beach helped to grow the existing dune by approximately 12 -15 feet in width.  This drift fence accreted sand, with the accreted sand acting as the sacrificial sand to protect the existing dune (left).   As a result, neither Sandy nor Nemo breached the existing dune and the natural resources and the homes behind the dune, were not damaged by either storm. (The property owners were wise and quickly replaced the fence as soon as the storms passed. The drift fencing is again working to accumulate sand.)


Another type of snow fence is the heavy duty sand drift fence as shown below by the drift fence installation on Cape Cod and Nantucket.  This installation consists of 8 inch diameter posts and 2 x 4 or 3 x 6 inch rails and 2 x 2 or 4 x 4 inch slats.   The open area is roughly 50% of the total space covered by the panel.   The materials of construction can be pressure treated, green oak, or plastic lumber.  The hardware is galvanized and no nails of any type are used.


The heavy duty construction is for applications where it is anticipated that both normal and storm surf and waves will reach the fence on a frequent basis.  As an additional reinforcement, 4 x 4 inch posts were installed at the mid span of each 10 foot panel.  This particular drift fence was installed three years ago and has had only minimal repairs even though it has experienced multiple nor'easter storms, including Sandy and Nemo.  The fence has worked well to accumulate sand and to knock down wave and surf that reach it.   Notice in the photo on the left that the sand behind the fence has been maintained at a higher elevation than the beach face seaward of the fence.


Sandrift fence -plastic lumber

Two recent materials that are now being used in sand drift fencing are green oak and plastic lumber.  These materials offer several advantages over standard pressure treated lumber panels.  The plastic lumber is very durable, offers greater strength and flexibility, and can be fabricated in various colors.  Green oak lumber is just that, oak lumber that is not kiln dried.   The green oak is 100% FSC natural material with no chemical treatment of any type it is a "natural" material for a natural environmental application.  While the cost of plastic lumber is greater than natural lumber, green oak is only slightly more expensive than pressure treated.  If you are considering installing a sand drift fence, we recommend green oak or plastic lumber over pressure treated material.





Beach Notes

We're teaming with the Nature Conservancy

NETCO is pleased to announce that it will be working with the Providence office of The Nature Conservancy on an erosion control research project in Rhode Island.  The project is the "Narrow River Saltmarsh Erosion Control Project."  The goal of the project is to evaluate the use of low cost, biodegradable materials in reducing erosion and enhancing saltmarsh and shellfish habitat.  The work will involve among other items the use of coir logs, coir fiber mats, and shell bags.  Also participating is the Charlestown, RI office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.    


A Wetlands Mitigation Bank  

The law firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP reports that the NYC Economic Development Corp. (EDC), working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, has begun efforts to establish a wetlands mitigation bank.  Public agencies or private property owners pursuing development projects impacting wetlands in the bank service area would be able to purchase compensatory mitigation credits that would be used to create a tidal emergent marsh, mudflat and open water ecosystem at the bank site.


Thinking of warm weather, far away places . . . and of course coastal erosion

PreventionWeb, a project of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, reports that Indonesia plans a nature based approach to restoring its coast line on the islands of Java and Bali.  The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries will be working with Wetlands International, and the Dutch research organization, Deltres, to tackle the erosion problems of the Indonesian coasts.    Anyone interested in going to Bali to monitor the work- other than the entire NETCO staff?


Beach restoration in Westerly, RI: It's not only about the beach!

The Corps of Engineers, as reported by the, last week awarded a $3.1 million project to MZM Construction of Newark, NJ to place 84,000 cubic yards of sand on Misquamicut  State Beach by June 1.  Funding was from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, part of the federal government's response to Superstorm Sandy.  Sand will be delivered by truck to the project site.


New user-friendly Climate Change Maps at

To help communities and citizens plan for the risks of coastal flooding and other climate-change-related impacts, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the U.S.G.S. are releasing a collection of non-sensitive datasets containing mapping information on hundreds of thousands of the Nation's infrastructure units and geographical features. This data is being made available via user-friendly mapping services on and


Now available: The World Meteorological Annual Report

As reported on March 24 by Agence France-Presse"Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change," Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said:  "We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise - as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines."  

Click here for the full report.  Additional links to other WMO sites can also be accessed from this site.


Don't Miss Out!  View Past Newsletters
Click on the links below to view past newsletters: 

Look for our next NETCO Newsletter: Designing and Installing Your Sand Drift Fence
Contact Information
  • Coir envelope construction
  • Coastal bank, shoreline and dune stabilization
  • Inland waterway erosion control
  • Construction site erosion control
  • Sand drift fencing
  • Beach nourishment
  • Vegetated buffers and coastal bank vegetation
  • Rock gabion construction (wire & HDPE gabions)
  • Boardwalks, dune crossovers, walkway construction
  • Wetland/salt marsh restoration
  • Infrastructure protection

21 Worthen Road
Lexington, MA 02421

781-863-6270 phone
781-274-0569 fax



David C. Lager

� 2014 NETCO Construction Project Managers, Inc.