Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 10:41 AM
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 10:41 AM
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Despite the Dateline of the Times article of “Quogue,” the lead inlet picture is of the new “Smith’s Inlet” on Fire Island opposite Fire Place Neck and Brookhaven Hamlet. The later before & after picture appears to be the same region of Fire Island. Quogue is significantly further east on Long Island. The barrier beach there usually is no longer considered “Fire Island.” This barrier beach is defined by Moriches inlet at the west and Shinnicock inlet at the east.
Growing, and Growing Vulnerable
Barrier Islands Feeling the Effects of Climate Change
QUOGUE, N.Y. — As the president of the Fire Island Association, Suzy Goldhirsch has a message she says she often offers property owners. “We are living on a sandbar in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” she tells them. “We are in a high-risk environment. We on barrier islands are on the front lines of climate change.”
The same could be said of many coastal areas around the world, which are threatened by rising sea levels as the planet warms. But the barrier islands that line the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, from Cape Cod to the Mexican border, are a special case.
A new report from the National Research Council finds that the effect of climate change is especially harsh on these islands. Population growth in much of this long coast “is nearly twice the national average,” the report said. Meanwhile, “these same coasts are subject to impact by some of the most powerful storms on earth and the destruction potential of these events is increasing due to climate change and relative sea-level rise.”
And so far, the report added, “as a compassionate nation, we rally each time a disaster strikes and provide resources for postdisaster recovery that far exceed those we are willing to provide to manage risk.”
The panel calls for a regional or even national approach to managing coastal hazards — a “proactive” effort to protect life, landscape and property, rather than the “disjointed and largely reactive approach” that has marked coastal protection efforts.
Until relatively recently, barrier islands defended themselves against rising seas by, in a sense, moving to higher ground: Storms washed beach sand to the islands’ inland side; inlets formed and healed, usually leaving sand deposits behind the islands. This process worked well, as geologists noticed after the Ash Wednesday storm in 1962, a nor’easter that battered much of the East Coast through five high tides. Afterward, they reported that beach recovery was fastest and most robust in areas with the least development.
Fire Island, Before and After Sandy
Lidar laser light pulse images showing how Fire Island in New York looked before Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, left, and how Fire Island looked afterward.
(The above is an active link online, bar can be slid left or right)
But today, Ms. Goldhirsch said, nature can no longer be left to take its course even as sea level rises. On many barrier islands, even federally designated national seashores like Fire Island, inlets are stabilized by rock jetties, beaches are routinely renourished with sand pumped from offshore, and miles of sea walls and other armor protect buildings.
“Let nature take its course — I don’t think that’s good planning,” she said. “That’s not public policy. Public policy is you have to figure out what to do.”
With the rapid development of the past few decades, the economic stakes have escalated drastically. The research council’s report, “Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts,” says that from 1980 to 2013, the United States had 33 coastal storms that each caused more than $1 billion in damage, sometimes far more.
While those storms represented about 22 percent of all the nation’s billion-dollar-plus disasters over that period, they caused about 49 percent of the economic losses. Adjusted for inflation, losses from coastal storms have tripled since 1980.
Many losses result from storm surge, the bulge of water that storms push onshore. Even if storms do not increase in frequency or intensity, the sea level’s rising will worsen damage from storm surge, which the report calls “the most destructive aspect of a hurricane.”
Subsidies, emergency relief and ad hoc projects on the East and Gulf Coasts have encouraged development in the face of such danger, the report said. These can be “inappropriate incentives” according to the panel’s head, Richard A. Luettich Jr., a professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The report was commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers, which, acting on the instructions of Congress, has had a large hand in this work. Among its other projects in response to Hurricane Sandy, the corps plans a Fire Island project that would pump seven million cubic yards of sand from offshore and construct new dunes and beaches along almost 20 miles of beachfront.
Supporters argue that the project will strengthen the island and that, in turn, will protect low-lying shore communities across Great South Bay. But opponents disagree, citing assessments from the United States Geological Survey; Fire Island’s relative stability over time; and other factors. Left alone, they argue, it will eventually recover from the storm. And drawing sand from offshore deposits to build new dunes could actually harm the island, they say.
In September, the National Audubon Society won a temporary restraining order halting the project, saying that pumping sand onto the island would harm nesting sites for endangered shorebirds.
Private and publicly financed shoreline engineering projects are provoking similar arguments in places like Nantucket Island, Mass.; Harvey Cedars, on Long Beach Island, N.J.; and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. On many barrier islands, daily life becomes more complicated as sea level rises. Here in Quogue, east of Fire Island, people use caution when driving on the main beach road when the moon is full (when tides are unusually high) because that’s when salt water from Quantuck Bay can flood across the road.
On the Outer Banks, the main road washes out routinely now, whenever “the tide is high and the wind is blowing,” as some residents put it. And everywhere, people are raising their houses on pilings, sometimes 20 feet or more in the air.
Nevertheless, the expert panel said, it is hard to win support for safety measures that would require communities to “forgo revenue-generating potential by limiting development.”
Robert S. Young, the director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, said he was glad to see the expert panel emphasize the need for a long-term, large-scale, proactive approach because “managing the coast parcel by parcel is a bad idea.”
“Every single problem we have today is only going to get worse in the future,” he said. “The only uncertainty is how fast they are going to get worse.”
But getting such a message across will be difficult, the panel said, adding that “assessing, communicating and managing risk in coastal areas are very challenging concepts even for a committee of experts in coastal science and engineering.”
Ms. Goldhirsch said Fire Island could be a model for intelligent planning, in part because even though people would bring different interests and goals to the process, “we all love the place.”
Her family has summered on Fire Island for more than 100 years, she said, and she understands its dangers. Hers is a modest house, where she keeps no valuables.
“I tell people, ‘If you don’t have the nervous system to live in a risky situation, it’s O.K. to sell or stormproof your house, or live modestly,’ ” she said. “Don’t try to get the federal government to pay for everything. They don’t have enough money.”
A version of this article appears in print on September 30, 2014, on page D3 of the New York edition with the headline: Growing, and Growing Vulnerable. ||
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
Unfortunately, those communities were little more than a mere excuse to once again recommend an over-the-top knee jerk response. Predictably, one that the Army Corps and politicians have repeatedly employed for decades, with little regard for either Fire Island or the Mainlands' safety. We understood all too well the political concerns, but advocated strongly that the Army Corps not forego an exhaustive environmental analysis of all alternatives, and protect those most vulnerable areas with more than a plan to place sand on a beach that time after time and year after year just continues to wash away.
We were also deeply disturbed and expressed concerns that the recommendations of several other interested agencies were apparently strong-armed and diluted their dire concerns and were urged to endorse a project they had previously labeled as ineffective, destructive of flora and fauna, or had no reasonable expectation for any long term success.
We also understood then and now, that purely political decisions are rarely if ever reached based on any sound science, and the flawed FIMI plan is no exception. Our comments and concerns were developed over 18 months, and were based on solid science, research,and the belief that the decision to place sand along the barrier island between the Fire Island Lighthouse and Moriches Inlet (FIMI) would end up simply being another enormous waste of valuable resources, and would provide virtually no protection for the Mainland, but would actually create conditions that could place it in real peril.
We believe that the natural processes at work for centuries along our southern coast's barrier islands are still capable of restoring the dunes, if only the ACOE does not continue to deplete the ocean sand deposits necessary for that process through ill advised dredging. We strongly urged that the breach at Old Inlet remain open to clean our bays, and that the dunes and beaches destroyed in our public recreation areas at Smith Point, Moriches Inlet and the Robert Moses State Park be protected by an expeditious rebuild of those dune areas for protection of the communities on newly vulnerable mainland areas. However, we expressed our disbelief that the Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) line was re-drawn and tailored to skirt around homes in the Fire Island Pines. Clearly, the best solution was to draw the line based on science, and remove all structures that fell south of the line lying vulnerable to Atlantic seas. Once again a political decision and massive money influence prevented a solution geared to protect both the barrier island or the Mainland and simply catered once again to those loud special interest voices.
Yesterdays' NY Times editorial (below) echoes our concerns and speaks to the question all of us should have asked before the plan was approved...Nonetheless we should all now be asking again..."What and who are we really pretending to protect...and why"
By ROBERT S. YOUNG
AUG. 21, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014
New York Times
The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
A Beach Project Built on Sand
EARLIER this month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $207 million plan to dredge millions of tons of sand off the south shore of Long Island and spread it along the beaches and dunes. The Army Corps of Engineers, which will direct the federally financed project, says it will stabilize Fire Island and reduce the storm surge hazard for the mainland.
In fact, the project will do neither. It is a colossal waste of money and another consequence of the nation’s failure to develop a coherent plan to address the risks from storms faced by states along the eastern seaboard and gulf coast.
That failure was underscored in a report last month by the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which evaluated efforts by the Army Corps and other federal agencies to reduce those risks. The take-away from the National Research Council was alarming: There is no national plan to manage the coast. No plan for storm-damage reduction. No plan for how best to allocate federal funds. And no plan for how to respond to coastal hazards and rising sea levels over the long run.
This leaves governments reactive rather than proactive. Most money is provided only after a disaster occurs, and is to be used in the areas affected by that one storm. In some cases, government officials and politicians want to be seen doing something, anything, to protect valuable coastal properties. Unfortunately, science and reality have been ignored in the plan to rebuild storm-damaged beaches and dunes along 19 miles of Long Island’s South Shore, including Fire Island National Seashore.
Scientists from the United States Geological Survey have been studying the evolution of Fire Island for more than a decade. They have examined how the sediment moves, where it comes from, how the island’s shoreline changes and the way ocean waters move in front of and behind the island during storms. The results of these studies have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals.
In its evaluation of the Army Corps’ draft Fire Island plan, the Geological Survey pointed out that the project’s justification and benefits were seriously flawed. The project will not reduce storm surge or storm hazards for properties across from Fire Island on the mainland, even though a significant portion of the cost justification for rebuilding the beaches and dunes came from protecting private property and infrastructure on the mainland. Why else would you spend so much to pump all that sand on the island?
The Army Corps’ environmental assessment made a broad assumption that Fire Island had been “damaged” by Hurricane Sandy and required repair and stabilization. But significant work over the years by coastal scientists at the Geological Survey has laid out a very clear picture of the long-term evolution of the island. Fire Island is a barrier island that does not require this project to “stabilize” it. The island and the national seashore have been relatively stable since colonial times.
Significant post-storm recovery of the island’s beaches has already occurred since Sandy. Natural reformation of the sand dunes will take longer, but nature is already repairing the island. Free of charge.
Fire Island is blessed with significant near-shore sand that has maintained shoreline stability over the years. This is the very sand that the Corps plans to dredge to build artificial dunes. The impacts of changing the natural flow of this sediment to the beach are unknown, but surprises are possible.
Dredge-and-fill projects like this are not environmentally benign. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service warned that the plan, in the short term, would hurt fish and wildlife and their supporting ecosystems, and would have long-term consequences on habitat and the island itself.
Of particular concern to some scientists and environmentalists is the habitat for piping plovers. These birds are listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened nationally and endangered within the State of New York. Storms like Hurricane Sandy actually create fabulous habitat for these birds in the storm deposits that sweep across Fire Island. But the proposed dune building will interrupt the development of that habitat.
Fire Island National Seashore is a perfect example of a place where storm impacts should be viewed as a natural event. Storms are an important part of barrier island sustainability. The waters that wash over the island also pile sand on top of the barrier, adding to the overall elevation of the island itself. The Corps’ proposed dunes will block that process.
It is hard to understand why this project was allowed to move forward without a more detailed investigation in the form of an environmental impact statement. The Corps relied on old science or no science to build a case for the benefits. The scientific criticism provided by other agencies was overwhelming but went largely unaddressed. Instead, the Corps will bury a national seashore, a state park and a county park in sand under the illusion that some properties in low-lying areas on the mainland might gain a small bit of protection.
This is the new post-Sandy model. We now favor political expediency over science, and action over a thoughtful evaluation of its long-term consequences.
Robert S. Young is a professor of coastal geology and director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 22, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: A Beach Project Built on Sand. ||
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Pattersquash duck hunters plan to build new island clubhouse
Friday, August 1, 2014
Below is a link to an article in Thursday’s Newsday (7/31/2014) about Bobby Stirling's bike being stolen. Nowhere in the article does it mention that Bobby is disabled. They also have the Post Morrow boatyard in Bellport instead of Brookhaven. And, under "Bellport Links," they have a picture of Sam Newey at his boatyard here in Brookhaven, NY.