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Army Corps Reassessing Beach Replenishment

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SandyHookR

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The Army Corp recently held a public session to announce that they are looking at ways to improve their current beach replenishment and coastal protection efforts. That is great news since it is the first time the state/federal government is admitting their work might need to change.

 

I was there to present the position and concerns of the New Jersey Coastal Alliance (see our facebook page). I can't help but think that we are part of the reason for the reassessment. In fact, we were the only conservation or environmental group to attend. At the hearing and in a recent letter we drove home the point that beach replenishment wastes money, does more harm than good, and breaks our state laws. There are better ways to protect our coast. Anyway, the article is posted below.  

 

$3.2M study will reevaluate how to protect this stretch of Jersey Shore beaches A bull dozer builds a sand berm between the ocean and sea wall behind Edgewater Beach and Cabana Club in Sea Bright in preparation for possible storm surge on in 2015. Sea Bright and a number of other towns will be subject to a $3.2 million study to determine if the state needs to re-assess how to protect about 21 miles of beach. Andre Malok | NJ Advance Media for NJ


By Steven Rodas for NJ
A $3.2 million study will help re-assess how federal engineers protect 21 miles worth of beaches at the Jersey Shore, federal officials said this week.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering reinforced dunes, berm modifications, submerged artificial reefs, groins, flood walls, sand back passing and other measures for the project area.

The same slice of coast — which stretches from Sea Bright to Manasquan — received an estimated 8 million cubic yards of sand in an emergency replenishment following Hurricane Sandy.


It’s unclear why the study — which considers some alternatives to a heavy reliance on sand replenishment which has faced criticism — is happening now, but a federal spokesperson said the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection initiated the reassessment.

“This study aims to reassess the original project from the late 1980s, focusing on addressing erosion issues and possibly incorporating new features like dunes, especially considering the damages from Hurricane Sandy,” Michael Embrich, a spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District, said Friday.

Despite some disapproval that it’s become too costly and will not be sustainable over time, federal officials say New Jersey beaches benefit from beach nourishment (usually done every two years) and undergo periodic studies to better understand how the work can be more effective.

Dropping millions of cubic yards of sand as part of the nourishment, or sand replenishment, is on pace to surpass $3 billion in New Jersey. It’s covered by state and federal taxpayers and takes place for flood protection as shore towns and nearby power infrastructure face higher risks due to sea level rise and worsening erosion due to climate change, according to the NJDEP.

Replenishment is also done to ensure beaches remain bountiful for the busy summer when they are an economic driver for Jersey Shore towns, several local mayors have highlighted.

“New Jersey’s coastal infrastructure is its first line of defense in protecting people, property, ecosystems, and the state’s $20 billion annual tourism economy from the impacts of devastating storms,” said Grace Hanlon, executive director of the Jersey Shore Partnership, a not-for-profit organization which supports the replenishment and notes aquatic habitats and bird species benefit from it as well.

The latest analysis will be fully funded by the federal 2022 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act. A public discussion for the study — efforts for which began in October 2022 — was held Nov. 20.

Army Corps officials are still evaluating next steps and gathering more feedback, a spokesman for the agency said.

Several Jersey Shore towns will be subject to a new $3.2 million study to determine if the state needs to re-asses how to protect about 21 miles of beach. Pictured is the project area, including two erosion "hot spots."

Ross Kushner, a Sea Bright resident and coordinator of a grassroots group called the New Jersey Coastal Alliance, said federal project managers indicated during a virtual session that severe beach erosion found in two areas was part of the impetus for re-considering how to protect that section of coast.

In a summary on the study, the Army Corps said two areas in Monmouth Beach and Elberon are considered “erosion hotspots.”

“These erosion hotspots require more frequent nourishment than anticipated,” a statement from the agency said. “This redirects re-nourishment funds and sand to these locations, as opposed to other sections of the existing project that could also benefit from sand placement. The study will investigate improvements to these areas to reduce the need for re-nourishment and the risk of erosion.”

As for the strategies being contemplated by federal engineers like dunes, seawalls and groins, Jon Miller — research associate professor at Stevens Institute of Technology — said Friday nearly all have been tried in the Garden State in one form or another (although often in isolation).

“The current study is a bit different in that it is looking at techniques that can enhance the existing project,” said Miller, who is also a board member of the Jersey Shore Partnership.

Kushner said Friday he was pleasantly surprised to hear of the re-assessment. However, he said options as part of new work — like building dunes, breakwaters, groins and even elevating or flood-proofing nearby properties — were simply laid out by the Army Corps in November.

“They presented those measures on equal footing and said they’re reviewing them,” said Kushner, adding that he’d hope to hear how those options were being narrowed down.

The Jersey Shore Partnership said it was sensible for the Army Corps to evaluate how to better protect the coast through the $3.2 million study.

But in a letter to the Army Corps on the project, Kushner said he was wary beach replenishment could impact the environment, nearby habitats and species — such as by possibly reducing the diet of piping plover. That, despite the federal agency saying it considers these factors during its feasibility analysis.

“It is our opinion that the (Army Corps) creates replenished beaches in the manner they do solely for economic reasons, as the cheapest, easiest alternative and with utter disregard for the public, the environment, or New Jersey’s enforceable policies,” Kushner wrote. “Their only goal is to prevent storm damage to the real estate directly facing the ocean in the least costly fashion.”

Miller, director of Stevens’ Coastal Protection Technical Assistance Service, said beach nourishment activities have been shown to impact infauna, invertebrates that live within the matrix of aquatic sediments.

“The scientific literature varies with reports of population recovery ranging from as short as several months or as long as several years, similar to the rates of recovery reported after extreme storm events,” said Miller. “What is clear is that beach nourishment creates and sustains habitats for a number of species such as the red knot, piping plover, and sea beach amaranth.”

The Army Corps said it plans more outreach to gather additional comments surrounding its coastal protection between Sea Bright and Manasquan.

A protection project, the agency said in a recent statement, that has so far “performed well during extreme storm conditions and has been successful in reducing the magnitude of storm damages” but could be modified “to better reduce coastal flood risk.”

 

 

 
Edited by TimS
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How long will this study take? Not to be a debby downer, but I think this is just a bone throwing exercise by the current administration to keep the environmental folks happy. I seriously doubt anything will change if the multi zillion dollar tourism industry has anything to say about it. The argument to change from sand replenishment to something more effective over the long term will have to be very compelling for the moneyed interests to take it seriously. 

Pfantum Pfishah

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6 mins ago, bdowning said:

How long will this study take? Not to be a debby downer, but I think this is just a bone throwing exercise by the current administration to keep the environmental folks happy. I seriously doubt anything will change if the multi zillion dollar tourism industry has anything to say about it. The argument to change from sand replenishment to something more effective over the long term will have to be very compelling for the moneyed interests to take it seriously. 

What "environmental folks"? The only ones complaining are me and my organization. But, hey, you gotta start somewhere. It's my opinion that they are seeing the potential legal troubles headed their way if they don't begin addressing this.  As I said, this is the first time the army corps is admitting to problems, and that's something. The study started in 2022 and will complete in 2025. 

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By environmental folks I meant wildlife and habitat conservation organizations. Ok, I don't know for a fact that they are complaining about replenishment, but it would seem natural considering their mission. I guess my point is I don't know how much this is really going to change anything. I'm suspicious of the ACOE suddenly admitting there may be problems and wanting to do a multi year study. Is there really substance behind it or is it just a superficial attempt to clean up their negative image? I guess we'll find out in 2 years. The road is always paved with good intentions...

Pfantum Pfishah

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This has to be one of the biggest money making scams ever !!!   

 

Funniest thing is our Congressman, Frank Pallone is at the head of this scam.  You can ask for a sit down meeting with him to discuss any topic you may be interested in.  When I asked for a meeting on beach replenishment, they responded with a big fat NO.

 

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58 mins ago, bdowning said:

By environmental folks I meant wildlife and habitat conservation organizations. Ok, I don't know for a fact that they are complaining about replenishment, but it would seem natural considering their mission. I guess my point is I don't know how much this is really going to change anything. I'm suspicious of the ACOE suddenly admitting there may be problems and wanting to do a multi year study. Is there really substance behind it or is it just a superficial attempt to clean up their negative image? I guess we'll find out in 2 years. The road is always paved with good intentions...

You're right about their mission but trust me they are not complaining. Very few organizations would even go on record opposing these projects. Not the American Littoral Society. Not the Asbury Park Fishing Club. Not Clean Ocean Action. Not NJ Audubon. Not the Berkeley Striper Club. I asked.

 

If this were just public relations, they'd be advertising the study, but they are not. Its been going on for over a year and few have even heard of it. Whether anything will come out of it remains to be seen.

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32 mins ago, SandyHookR said:

You're right about their mission but trust me they are not complaining. Very few organizations would even go on record opposing these projects. Not the American Littoral Society. Not the Asbury Park Fishing Club. Not Clean Ocean Action. Not NJ Audubon. Not the Berkeley Striper Club. I asked.

 

If this were just public relations, they'd be advertising the study, but they are not. Its been going on for over a year and few have even heard of it. Whether anything will come out of it remains to be seen.

 

Unreal. Believe me, I hope some change comes out of this as I am as anti-replenishment as they come. Just not holding my breath. 

 

Pfantum Pfishah

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1 hour ago, 27conch said:

This has to be one of the biggest money making scams ever !!!   

 

Funniest thing is our Congressman, Frank Pallone is at the head of this scam.  You can ask for a sit down meeting with him to discuss any topic you may be interested in.  When I asked for a meeting on beach replenishment, they responded with a big fat NO.

 

 

Tells you all you need to know. :banghd:

Pfantum Pfishah

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In Cape May the city has contacted a company to survey the beach replenishment. Over the years there have been numerous people injured in the shore break. One of the "known" families son suffered paralyses from neck and back injuries. He started a grass roots organization to bring attention to the issue. Which has resulted in warning signs at entrances and warning pamphlets  given out with the beach tags. Liability I believe is the driving force in the blame game.

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1 hour ago, squidder 329 said:

In Cape May the city has contacted a company to survey the beach replenishment. Over the years there have been numerous people injured in the shore break. One of the "known" families son suffered paralyses from neck and back injuries. He started a grass roots organization to bring attention to the issue. Which has resulted in warning signs at entrances and warning pamphlets  given out with the beach tags. Liability I believe is the driving force in the blame game.

I believe the family you mention is the Desatnicks . They are active with us (NJCA). They know the deal. Unfortunately Cape May has pulled back on blaming these projects for excessive injuries.   

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3 hours ago, bdowning said:

 

Unreal. Believe me, I hope some change comes out of this as I am as anti-replenishment as they come. Just not holding my breath. 

 

You have to keep plugging away at this. Never say never! Talk it up with friends. Write a letter to your local newspaper. Help us out by joining our facebook page. It makes a difference.   

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