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38° Good Afternoon
38° Good Afternoon
OpinionEditorial

The futility of our fight against rising ocean

Natural defenses and managed retreats are the best strategy.

Steve Couch, a senior coastal planner with the

Steve Couch, a senior coastal planner with the Army Corps of Engineers, explains three options to residents of Montauk for the dredging and placement of sand from Lake Montauk Harbor. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Reminders of the folly of Long Island’s coastal policies just keep coming.

A federal jury has deemed East Hampton Town responsible for the erosion of beach in front of nearly a dozen residential properties in Montauk. The culprit: two jetties, each 1,000 feet long, that protect Lake Montauk Harbor. But they also, utterly predictably, stop the east-to-west drift of sand that once replenished the beach. The jetties were built by the Army Corps of Engineers, but the town, which ironically has one of the region’s more enlightened coastal philosophies, is on the hook because it technically owns the structures.

The Corps, incredibly, proposed three new groins to protect the beach, which would exacerbate the problem farther east and is now banned by East Hampton code. Another option is a $21 million beach replenishment via dredging, but the new sand, too, will wash away.

Natural defenses and managed retreats are the best way to protect our magnificent coastline against rising seas. Instead, we keep fighting Mother Nature, a battle we’re doomed to lose. 

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