Activists blame LI dune project for dramatic erosion on Montauk Beach

MONTAUK, Long Island (WABC) -- The organization Defend H2O is filing a complaint against NOAA and Army Corps of Engineers for what activists say are major errors in an $8 million dune protection project.

Residents and even a local scientist are predicting the disappearance of Montauk Beach.

Layers and layers of the dune vanished..a steep drop reveals dramatic beach erosion.

Most of a barely finished mile protection project in Montauk was chewed up during the off shore tropical storm Hermine.

"We predicted that this would happen. It's the first stage of the disappearance of the fronting beach," said coastal scientist Kevin McAllister.

McAllister and East Hampton attorney Carl Irace do not blame a storm for their doomed beach - they blame the dune protection project they fought in court.

When they lost, they literally stood with other residents in front of bulldozers to prevent the project last November.

"Bulldozers chugged on and the juggernaut of the Army Corps was something we couldn't stop," said Irace.

They put 14,000 sandbags down along 3,000 feet of Montauk Beach. But the result is the bags are exposed and the dunes are weakened.

"It's a misnomer - protecting the structure behind it by sacrificing the fronting beach," said McAllister. "Ultimately serious beach loss or permanent beach loss pulls it off shore."

Sandbag "protection" is like a concrete sea wall, which protects homes and hotels behind the wall.

But when waves and surge hit the sandbags, basic science reveals the beach in front is sacrificed.

"Drop in elevation and you narrow and it's a point of no return because the beach can't recover naturally because it's interacting with a wall," said McAllister.

McAllister says instead of money wasted on protection projects, the solution for places like Montauk with no barrier island is to move back buildings. Or spend sand replenishment money to buy out property owners instead of altering the natural protection in place.

"Together as the Long Island community we have to stand strong to prevent shore hardening from happening on a large scale on Long Island," said McAllister..
Related topics:
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.