The July 27 news story “Fighting erosion: Shoring up LI’s beaches” reflects an intransigent ignorance among most people, including academics, that coastal managers have spent decades attempting to reverse.
Almost four decades ago, New York State developed programmatic and statutory limitations to prohibit new development, including residences, seawalls and other structures, in erosion hazard/natural protective feature areas along Long Island’s shorelines. Preexisting development in those areas is to be phased out whenever destroyed by coastal hazards, not rebuilt. Seawalls and other structures interfering with important physical processes, functions, values and uses in those areas are to be removed. Retreat from those areas is required by law in New York.
But instead of moving human life and property from harm’s way, government on Long Island is rebuilding and building anew, putting life, property, resources and important uses of those areas at greater risk. Examples include homes being built in the Hamptons, or shoreline bulkheads, revetments, gabion walls and geotextile sandbags. That’s not resilient. It’s not coastal management. Nor are these measures appropriate along Long Island’s physically dynamic barrier beach, dune, bluff and wetlands coastline.
This is madness. Stop it.
Steven C. Resler,
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired coastal manager and deputy bureau chief of New York’s Coastal Management Program.
The story “Fighting erosion” focused on the need to protect the economically sensitive areas of the South Shore, as well as homes there. Important as well is the need to protect coastal areas of the North Shore. A 2015 Suffolk County Legislature task force agreed that North Shore coastal communities need erosion control.
As a resident of the North Shore community of Nissequogue, I am fortunate that village trustees approved the building of erosion-control structures for my home and my neighbors’ homes despite environmentalists’ resistance. Otherwise, our homes could eventually fall into Long Island Sound. These environmentally approved structures were paid for by homeowners.
Your story rightly recognizes the need to protect the South Shore. However, North Shore coastal communities should receive funding for erosion control as well.