INTERCOURSE, Pa. — Hoober, Inc. a farm equipment dealer with locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, has been helping the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control maintain and restore Delaware Beaches in Lewes, Del., and at the Indian River Inlet in Sussex County, Delaware, through the use of tractors traditionally used in agriculture and construction.
For more than 10 years, Hoober has supplied Case IH Steiger Quadtrac tractors to help restore sand dunes and perform other tasks to counteract the effects of erosion – which in the state of Delaware takes away an average of two to three feet of ocean beaches per year. Currently, Case IH 470 Quadtrac tractors from Hoober are being used because of their power and ability to provide excellent traction on sand. Equipped with 12-foot Degelman blades, the tractors can move large amounts of sand quickly and efficiently.
One of the primary functions the tractors are used for is pushing and grading high-volume vehicle crossings.
“Usually wind will blow sand into our vehicle crossings and we also get build up from so many vehicles going back and forth,” said Scott Figurski of DNREC. “We use the Steigers with the blade to push the fluffy sand out and grade it and to get all the ruts out. The weight of the machine helps firm up those vehicle crossings as well.”
Another main function of the tractors is to move sand that gets deposited in what is called a repair bar. Nor’easters, hurricanes or remnants of hurricanes cause some beach erosion but once things settle down, Figurski explained the ocean will return the sand a little at a time forming a repair bar. That deposited sand is pushed across the beach allowing some sand to filter in order to build the beach berm and the rest is used to reinforce the dune toe.
“At low tide we’ll go down with the Steiger with the blade and push that repair bar back up to the toe of the dune to help reinforce the dune,” said Figurski. “We’ll also let some of that sand filter as we’re going up to the dune so that it raises the elevation of the beach. That way, when the next high water comes due to a nor’easter, hurricane or even an extremely high tide, the water doesn’t make it so far up on the beach.”
On occasion, the tractors are used for something their designers and engineers probably never envisioned — moving and burying whales. Every once in a while a whale will wash up on the beach and a Steiger Quadtrac is used to pull the whale, usually weighing around 40,000 pounds, up out of the surf so biologists can do their work and evaluation. Then the Steiger, equipped with the blade, is used to create an enormous depression before the tractor pulls the whale into the trench and then deposits sand back over the body for a beach burial.
As another part of the beach restoration effort, the DNREC has a sand bypass facility at the Indian River Inlet which moves sand from the southern side of the beach to the northern side each Labor Day through Memorial Day before the influx of tourists and beachgoers. According to Figurski, the south side beach sticks out further and most of the sand gets deposited there. Using a large crane and a huge suction line, DNREC crews move sand from the south side to the bypass facility where the main pump pumps it over the Indian River Bridge and deposits the sand on the north side to keep the north side nourished. The Steiger Quadtracs are also used at the Indian River Inlet to grade the road that goes out to the beach from the bypass facility, to create a path for the crane to get on to the beach, to move the suction line, and then to push sand back into the hole created by the crane. The tractors are also used to grade the beach after sand is pumped on the north side and as needed on the south side.
DNREC has also used the machines to assist the Delaware Department of Transportation by moving sand off of the highway after a major storm event and plowing snow after a major snowstorm.
The beach program Steiger was even decorated and participated in the Lewes Christmas parade.
“We’re pleased to have such a long-standing relationship with the state of Delaware in assisting them with their on-going beach restoration initiatives,” said Chuck Hoober of Hoober, Inc. “Being able to support the work of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is extremely important to us.”
— Hoober, Inc.