Experimental snow fencing passes the test

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 7:45am

Island resident Chris Warfel has been pushing for the use of snow fencing built out of biodegradable jute in place of the wooden slat fencing for some time now, and test installations of the alternative fencing are showing positive results. Warfel has been arguing that the slat alternative does hold rising sands at bay, but is not maintained. It becomes dangerous as it falls apart, said Warfel.

Warfel installed the jute snow fencing in a few areas near Town Beach to test its effectiveness.

“I installed the test areas near Town Beach so I'd have a better idea for the full installation. I did not want to have people helping unless I had an idea of how to best use their time,” Warfel said. “I put in the first test area about four years ago on Coast Guard Road. That's how ridiculously long it takes to get things done and that's only if you keep at it.”

Warfel checked in on the test areas after the most recent storm. The fencing stayed intact and kept some of the sand from drifting onto pathways going to and from the beach.

Warfel said the fencing, while not more durable than the wood fencing, has other benefits. 

“It is biodegradable so it will not become a liability. It will require more more frequent replacement, but its life cycle cost of purchasing and installation is much lower than the wooden slat wire snow fencing. It is also much easier to wrangle,” Warfel told The Times. “The pictures I gave the Town on Monday was fencing that took me about 2.5 hours to install and in one storm was able to have sections of it buried by the sand it trapped.” Warfel said the old slat fencing was often taken and used by people for beach fires.

Warfel recommended that the town purchase no more of the old type of snow fencing “as it too resource-consuming to maintain.”