The dreadful stench that greets beach-goers to Lynn and Nahant is gone. Now, and all summer.
Pressed by local legislators, state officials said removal of the foul-smelling brown algae will continue through the end of the beach season.
Members of the Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach were alarmed that the algae removal program they say is crucial to public enjoyment of the beaches might stop July 1 because of state budget cuts.
Leo Roy, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, had told members at a Friends meeting last month that he could commit to continuing the program through the end of the fiscal year — June 30 — but after that, there would be no more funding available, said Robert Tucker, president of the group.
Before the DCR began the removal program in 2008, the noxious odors resulting from the brown seaweed carried in by the tide was a chronic problem, Tucker said.
“If it’s allowed to remain on the beach and is baked by the sun, it emanates a horrible, rotten smell,” he said.
State Senator Thomas M. McGee, a Lynn Democrat, said the commitment from the administration of Governor Charlie Baker came during a meeting that he and state Representative RoseLee Vincent, a Revere Democrat, held with Baker’s representatives.
“They are committed to do it through the end of this year,” McGee said of the administration, which was represented at the meeting by Matthew A. Beaton, the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary; Jay Ash, secretary of Housing and Community Development; and Nicholas Gove, a DCR official.
The state spends $150,000 annually for algae removal at the two beaches.
“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to fully support the [DCR’s] efforts to remove algae from Nahant and Lynn beaches and is pleased the program is fully funded again in both the administration’s and the House of Representatives’ [fiscal 2018] budget proposals,” Peter Lorenz, spokesman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said by e-mail.
The DCR program, which runs from April through November in Lynn and Nahant, involves collecting the algae from the beaches into piles and trucking it to a landfill. Tucker said it has made conditions at the beach at least “tolerable.”
“Tens of thousands of people use this resource in the summer months,” said Tucker, whose group organizes summer concerts and other public events along the beachfront. “They should not have to come down here and see brown algae on the beach that smells of rotten eggs.”
Bruce Berman, director of strategy and communications for Save the Harbor, Save the Bay, was at the meeting with state officials and said he is pleased the algae removal will be continuing.
“This is the way it’s supposed to work,” he said. “Advocates and elected officials pushed back hard against what they saw as a shortsighted policy decision and the Baker administration responded in an appropriate way.”
Fears first arose when a $50,000 earmark legislators placed in the fiscal 2017 budget to require a minimum funding level for the program was included in midyear budget cuts by Baker in December.
But an administration official said that Roy’s comments simply reflected the fact that the fiscal 2018 budget process has not been finalized.
State Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat who has teamed with McGee to secure annual funding for beach cleanup, said she was pleased with the “administration’s expressed commitment to fully fund algae collection and removal. The importance of this activity cannot be overstated. This is a real quality of life issue for the area.”
John Laidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.