Sand mining was the talk of the town in at least four Island communities this week, as officials lined up on both sides of whether to support dredging for sand in waters off the Vineyard.
Beyond the economic forces and aesthetic values that will drive interest in restoring eroding beaches at any cost, there is also a serious environmental argument in favor of beach nourishment via the addition of sand taken from elsewhere.
With the release of the draft Massachusetts Ocean Plan two weeks ago, Islanders should be alert to a discussion now unfolding in the Island community about sand mining.
Bad Idea Editors, Vineyard Gazette: The following letter was sent to Bruce Carlisle, director of the state Coastal Zone Management program.

The Chilmark board of selectmen is strongly opposed to any proposal for sand mining in Vineyard Sound.

As elected officials up-Island balk at the prospect of offshore sand mining, Oak Bluffs is voicing support for the venture. At a selectmen’s meeting early this week, town administrator Robert L. Whritenour said town beaches stand to benefit from new information laid out recently in the draft state Ocean Management Plan.
As leading state environmental officials look to the Island’s offshore resources to further wind energy goals and mine sand for beach fill, a small but vocal crowd of Vineyarders are airing their concerns about tapping these resources to the detriment of the fisheries and other sea life.