PLUM ISLAND – The Plum Island Foundation received a surprise letter and donation last week from some fourth graders at Spofford Pond School in Boxford who recently learned about beach erosion.
In a letter to the foundation, fourth-grade students at Laura Valzania, known as “The Hive”, wrote “Our class has learned some of the devastating effects that weathering and erosion can have on our communities, especially our shores, and we really wanted to help in some way.
“After learning about the specific challenges Plum Island faces, we have decided to do something to help protect its coastline, marine life and wildlife, and the homes and businesses of the surrounding communities,” they said. for follow-up.
Taking action, the students decided to create beach-inspired artwork to sell at an annual event in the school store.
Plum Island Foundation Treasurer Steve DeSalvo met with students via Zoom on Monday to learn more about their efforts and share a brief history of the foundation, as well as answer some of their questions.
With the help of their art teacher, who coincidentally had taken several beach photos at Plum Island as a source for her own watercolors, the students created landscape paintings on cards and bookmarks, DeSalvo learned.
By selling these products to students and parents through the school store and a holiday fundraiser, the class raised $439 for the Plum Island Foundation.
“It’s so impressive,” the foundation’s treasurer said over the phone before meeting the students.
DeSalvo noted that for years he was a volunteer and a board member for Junior Achievement, which helps K-12 students with financial literacy.
Seeing these students not only care about the environment and Plum Island, but also come up with a fundraising plan really impressed him.
The donation from Valzania’s fourth-grade class will cover the running costs of the foundation.
The Plum Island Foundation is an all-volunteer organization, but it has insurance, mail and website hosting costs, as well as its contract with Coastal Erosion Expert Howard Marlowe, DeSalvo said.
The organization’s goal for 2022 is to continue working with the Merrimack River Beach Alliance to ensure that the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Merrimack River Dredge and Section 204 project, which will replenish much-needed sand on the beach along Reservation Terrace, stay on track for the fall.
The Army Corps of Engineers expects to award a bid by mid-to-late June, with work to begin in September when the environmental window typically permits.
The foundation also plans to continue working with the Corps to replace the pier spur and install a structure to reduce and deflect the gyre at the mouth of the Merrimack River, DeSalvo said.
As a barrier island, Plum Island has been hit hard by extreme weather events over the years and will continue to be affected by climate change in the future.
When the piers were restored around 2013, erosion accelerated dramatically along Reservation Terrace, DeSalvo said, which is why the foundation is working with the Corps and elected officials to remedy the gyre.
In addition, since November approximately 62,000 of the planned 150,000 cubic meters of dredged material from the Piscataqua River has been brought to an authorized site off Newbury.
The foundation has “worked with the corps to ensure material is deposited offshore where there is the greatest recent erosion near and north of the central island groin,” said FromSalvo.
This dredging project is expected to be completed by April 1.
To learn more about the foundation, visit https://plumislandfoundation.org.
Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.