TRENTON, NJ - The DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will launch two major coastal construction projects Friday for Cape May and Monmouth counties. The Monmouth County project will make improvements coastal protection structures in the area of Loch Arbour, Allenhurst and Deal. However, the project does not include dunes because they are not required north of Manasquan Inlet. Dunes are crital to protect our coast against beach erosion. The project is part of $1.2 billion appropriated by Congress to rebuild and strengthen New Jersey's coastline after Hurricane Sandy.
“We are glad the Army Corp and the DEP are replenishing Monmouth’s beaches, however unless we restore our natural dune systems all this time and money will be wasted. Beach replenishment projects should be connected to an appropriate dune system. Dunes will not only protect property, but will hold the beach in because without the dunes the sand will wash away making towns vulnerable to storm surges and flooding. Dunes are not going to solve all our problems, but they are a step in the right direction. Dunes are vitally important when it comes to protecting our coast against beach erosion, providing habitats for all types of species, protecting property from storms and storm surges. Allenhurst was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy because they did not have dunes. We cannot rebuild the Shore smarter and better without building dunes,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of The New Jersey Sierra Club.
These communities including Deal, Loch Arbor and Allenhurst have far too long tried to keep the public off their beaches. These communities have not only blocked access but made difficult to even park, find, a bathroom, or place to change. Many people have gone to court to try to gain access to the beaches that belong to all of us especially against Deal. DEP is not requiring any new access areas even though we are spending millions of dollars of public money to replenish the beaches for these towns.
“We are spending millions of dollars of public money to fix beaches for these towns that have fought to block public access to their beaches. They want our money, but want to keep us off beaches that we pay for. The DEP rolled back public access requirements and is not requiring any new access areas or amenities .DEP is spending our money for beach replenishment, but has gone along to keep us of these new beaches the public built ” said Jeff Tittel.
Restoring natural systems protects property and is environmentally beneficial. In order to deal with storms there needs to be an overall comprehensive approach including the need to elevate structures and move them back from the water’s edge. Restoring natural features like stream buffers. Also regional storm water planning and developing new flood storage areas will prevent further development in flood pone areas.
“Dunes hold the beach in place and prevent storms from carrying the beaches out to sea. Without requiring dunes we are wasting money. The Army Corps forgets it is our money being used without these safeguards. We need to ensure these projects are done right the first time to protect people and property because the threat of these storms will only worsen,” said Tittel.
We need to look at protecting New Jersey coastal communities in a more comprehensive manner that includes natural systems and planning for sea level rise and storm surges. We have found one of the lessons from Hurricane Sandy is that natural systems like vegetative dunes and coastal marshes work much better protecting people and property than manmade, which are better for the environment.
“We have not been able to build the dunes in certain towns unless there were easements. We cannot be doing this year after year shoveling taxpayers money out to sea every time there is a storm. It is even worse now because of devastation. We saw during Superstorm Sandy that towns with dunes did better than towns that didn’t have dunes. By restoring these natural systems not only do we protect people and property, but we ensure that the impacts of the next storm will be much less. Without easements and dunes we will just be paying to restore beaches and property all over again. Just pumping sand on the beach is a waste of money and hurts the environment putting people in harm’s way,” said Jeff Tittel. “The DEP denies science of climate change, does not protect a vulnerable area. By looking the other way, it’s like they are an ostrich with their head in the sand, except this ostrich has a giant wave coming over it. That wave is called sea level rise and climate change.”