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Two dredging projects to begin next fall at Fire Island National Seashore

A view of the breach caused by Superstorm

A view of the breach caused by Superstorm Sandy on Fire Island, looking west on March 9, 2013. Credit: Doug Kuntz

Fire Island National Seashore will undertake dredging projects at two marinas and entrance channels this fall.

The National Park Service has approved a plan to dredge about 60,000 cubic yards of sand at Watch Hill and 10,000 cubic yards at Sailors Haven between October and the end of the year. The work will remedy silting in channels and marinas by superstorm Sandy in October 2012. The projects are estimated to cost a total of $3.6 million.

Dredging at Talisman/Barrett Beach, which is also within the boundaries of the national seashore, is necessary but will not be completed this year because no funding is available, officials said.

Jim Dunphy, facilities manager for the Park Service, said the marina and entrance channel at Watch Hill would be dredged so that the mile-long channel again will be 100 feet wide with a minimum depth of six feet.

"In some places now it's 3 to 4 feet" at low tide, he said. "We have it buoyed off to keep people in deep water but it's much narrower than it needs to be. So it creates a problem for boat traffic."

At Watch Hill, the dredged sand will be stockpiled near the marina and possibly on the ocean side for later use.

At Sailors Haven, the quarter-mile long channel needs to be dredged to be 100 feet in width.

"In some areas, heavy shoaling has made it narrower than intended," Dunphy said. The sand will be taken from the marina and channel and used for shoreline restoration on the bay side of the island.

The dredging window approved by other federal agencies is from October through December to avoid interfering with marine life, he said.

The National Park Service released an environmental assessment for public review this past fall that said there would be no adverse impact from the dredging. During the public comment period, six comments were received, all in favor of the dredging.

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