Category Archives: Recommended Reading

The Long, Slow Drowning of the New Jersey Shore

Below excerpts are from an August 12th article published in The New York Times Magazine. The full article is available here.

“The barrier islands today display ample evidence of their battle with human development: failing bulkheads bowing against the corrosive press of water; lumpy and cracked streets, the result of the earth’s constant settling beneath them; high tide bubbling from sidewalk seams; beaches wiped away by a single anonymous storm…

The enemy, of course, is the water. Early development on the islands was concentrated toward the oceanfront, but the static nature of infrastructure was in conflict with the shoreline’s need to breathe. Boardwalks, homes and roads and the jetties, sea walls and bulkheads constructed to protect them did little more than accelerate erosion…

“In many places on the barrier islands, nuisance flooding now accompanies practically every full-moon high tide, heavy downpour or strong shoreward wind. These events rarely show up in the news, but in their persistent submerging of lawns and roads for hours at a time, they represent the primary existential threat to the beating heart of the Jersey Shore…

“For the last five years, the Army corps has been conducting its own New Jersey back-bays study, as part of the agency’s long-term strategy for managing the risk of coastal flooding. It estimates that the state’s 950-square-mile back-bay areas and oceanfront will soon be sustaining $1.57 billion in annual damages over a 50-year period if no new flood-mitigation measures are implemented. One of the study’s visions for the future imagines a coast armored with concrete and steel. But the scale of that sort of work dwarfs the projects currently underway on the barrier islands: Storm-surge barriers alone would cost more than $16 billion…

“The study’s authors concede that ‘in some cases, just as ecosystems migrate and change functions, human systems may have to relocate in a responsible manner.'”

Click here to read the full article.

DUMPING SAND

Below excerpts are from a July 20th article published by The Southampton Press. The full article is available here.

“The planned Army Corps project, with the acronym FIMP [is] now scheduled to fully begin next year.

“It’s no longer estimated to cost in the millions of dollars. The price has now gone up to ‘more than $3 billion'”–50 percent of which will be federally funded.

“As to the other 50 percent of the ‘approximately $1.5 billion’ of the beach ‘renourishment cost,’ where’s that money to come from? That would be a ‘local’ obligation — to come from the state, Suffolk County and the towns where the renourishment take place.

“…It is inevitable that the FIMP project ‘will unravel both physically and financially. Demand will outpace the Army Corps’ ability to deliver sand when every coastal community up and down the East Coast is in line and back in line. … Perpetual sand replenishment is both economically and environmentally unsustainable.’ 

[Mr. McAllister] “predicts a public ‘awakening’ when that so-called renourishment phase is to happen and the ‘local financial obligation kicks in and hits home with taxpayers. Long Island politicians need to stop kicking the can and give some tough love — and develop and execute withdrawal/rollback plans for vulnerable areas without further delay.'”

Click here to read the full article.

How Famous Surfers and Wealthy Homeowners Are Endangering Hawaii’s Beaches

Below excerpts are from a December 5th article co-published by ProPublica and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The full article is available here.

For decades, homeowners in Punalu‘u watched from large picture windows as locals sunned on the beach and dove for octopus amid the coral reefs of northeast Oahu.

But year after year, the ocean inched closer and closer to their wooden beach houses, and by 2006, it was threatening to claw them away.

Two homeowners asked the state for permission to erect mounds of sandbags along the beach for protection.

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources agreed, with one key condition: The emergency measures would be temporary. Such shoreline structures can hasten beach erosion, and state officials were trying to ensure that didn’t happen. The homeowners had a few years to come up with long-term plans for their homes and remove the sandbags.

But as the deadlines approached, state officials granted them an extension. Then, another. The decisions set off a cascade of armoring along the coastline, as neighboring homeowners put up their own sandbags to guard against seasonal waves and rising seas.

Today, nearly 15 years later, the sandbags remain and the beach is largely gone. If members of the public want to reach the ocean, they must clamber over a makeshift seawall, covered by black and tan fabric and held together with rope, and past “No Trespassing” and “Danger” signs.

Continue reading here.