"Why is the Fire Island to Montauk Point Study for reducing storm damage taking so long"?
Differing points of view have often resulted in litigation
For over 40 years numerous Federal, State and Local governments have been working to develop a comprehensive plan for reducing storm damage along the eastern most 85 miles of long Island. Many times we thought we were close only to realize that some component had been missing or not treated with the same level of rigor as all the other elements. Over this same 40 years the state of knowledge has improved allowing for complex numerical models, better understanding of the eco system and larger involvement of interest groups. To say that many of these interest groups have a divergent point of view would be an understatement. These differing points of view have often resulted in litigation, which at last count includes a number of active lawsuits.
We love the place to death.
One could consider the debate as a competition for a scarce resource with the resource being the Atlantic Coastline and surrounding estuarine systems. As we look at this resource that many people and wildlife call home we find the needs of everyone and everything often exceed the carrying capacity of the system. In plain English we love the place to death.
The real risk of living in a high hazard area.
Man has left a footprint larger then Godzilla on the South Shore of Long Island yet some would have you believe that this is a natural environment. As we look at the world post Hurricane Katrina we understand that for any plan to work it must be in balance taking a system wide approach and include environmental restoration and non-structural features. We also need to communicate to the public at large the real risk of living in a high hazard area. Yes, much of the South Shore of Long Island is a high hazard area with many of these areas a great deal inland from the coast. The Barrier Islands, Wetlands, Non-structural alternatives and sensible development play a large role in any plan to reduce storm damage.
Forty years of false starts and missed opportunities.
At a recent meeting of the Fire Island Association members of the Corps of Engineers, State of New York and the Fire Island National Seashore tried to explain where we are in the process. While the effort remaining and time to complete the study might have frustrated members of the audience and the press it is was a necessity born out forty years of false starts and missed opportunities. To avoid a repeat of the past any plan the Corps and its partners in DOI, State of New York, County, Towns and Villages come up with must be independently evaluated and an external peer review conducted on a level with the National Academy of Sciences.
To Be Continued.....
Chief Planning & Policy
North Atlantic Division
Director Corps of Engineers
Planning Center of Expertise for
Coastal and Storm Damage