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$109.3 Million Goes to Coastal Erosion Projects

Nature & Weather

Six coastal erosion projects have been set for Long Island.

Governor Cuomo’s office announced on April 16 that $109.3 million has been secured to go forward with six coastal erosion mitigation projects along the Long Island coastline under the New York Works program.  Three dredging projects at Fire Island Inlet, Moriches Inlet and Shinnecock Inlet, shore protection for Lake Montauk Harbor, and a renourishment of Westhampton Interim Beach as well as a feasibility study for Hashamomuck Cove are being paid for in part by New York State ($22.65 million) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who have invested $86.65 million.  

The New York Works initiative was designed to put New Yorkers to work, according to the Governor’s office by creating tens of thousands of jobs, rebuilding aging but critical infrastructure such as dams and flood control systems.  Cuomo called New York Works the centerpiece of a “transformative budget,” which is set to close a multi-billion dollar budget deficit while limiting spending to under 2%.  Other New York Works projects include restoring Coney Island and repairs for Hudson Valley flood damage.
 "The funds made available for the Long Island inlet navigation maintenance projects, such as the Fire Island dredging project, will allow safe passage through the inlets and enhance the safety of all mariners. This is great news and critically important for the safety of our recreational boaters, commercial fisherman and our Coast Guard,” said Senator Owen Johnson, who represents the 4th district on Long Island.
A century’s worth of coastal maps indicates that erosion along the shores of Long Island has averaged 1-2 feet per year.  Tidal inundation, storm surge, bluff failure and flooding during massive rainfall events all contribute to coastal erosion.  While Long Island beaches are generally stable, different areas are affected more harshly than others, and large scale storm events, like Tropical Storm Irene, during which several protective dunes were severely damaged, can dramatically alter the shape of the beach.  Protecting coastal dunes is one of the most important elements of beach reclamation because many species of migratory birds, as well as other predators make their homes in this ecologically distinct area.  Additionally, large dunes themselves, serving as a large retaining wall, are the first line of defense for the inland.
Dredging is the main process by which beaches are reconstructed, whether it’s following a large storm or a decade of slow erosion.  Sediments are pulled, scraped or sucked from the bottom of shallow inlet and harbors, and moved to areas that need land reclamation.  Dredging does have some environmentally degrading effects, like kicking up sediments which prevent light from penetrating water, affecting plant and animal life.  But recreational access and the benefits experienced by coastal-based industries, and the jobs created reconstructing beaches usually outweigh the other costs.  
Other local politicians have voiced their support of the project.  "The NY Works Program will bring millions of dollars to the First Senatorial District for road, bridge and infrastructure repairs and long overdue dredging and shoreline rehabilitation projects,” said State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.  “The State will now undertake much needed repairs and that means contracts for local companies and jobs for local residents."  
"Long Island's beaches, waterways, and coastal areas are enjoyed by local residents and visitors from around the world,” said State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr.  He added, “They are a critical part of our economy and way of life which must be protected. Investing in these projects will help prevent coastal erosion and ensure that residents and visitors can continue to enjoy these areas for years to come."


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