Steal from NJ’s inlets to feed the beaches — Complementary sand projects underway
Eroded beaches and sand-clogged inlets are just a couple of the common problems facing New Jersey's shore communities.
Projects underway in Ocean and Atlantic counties turn those two problems into one big solution — take excess sand from the waterway and dump it onto the beaches that need widening.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is in the process of removing sand from the southern portion of Little Egg Inlet — which was deemed unsafe for boats all last summer because of sand buildup — and using it to repair beaches and dunes in Holgate and Beach Haven, on Long Beach Island.
"It is killing two birds with one stone," DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said.
Little Egg Inlet, one of the widest in the state, has never been dredged before, Hajna noted.
Last winter, the U.S. Coast Guard pulled all buoys from the inlet that were marking a safe route. Boaters were warned that if they use the inlet, they'd be doing so at their own risk.
"The channel that we're dredging is going to be 24 feet beneath mean sea level," Hajna said. "That's a nice deep channel that will provide long-term relief for boaters."
At the same time, workers are pumping 755,000 cubic yards of sand from Brigantine Inlet, which has accumulated large shoals over time. The inlet is not considered a navigation channel. The sand will be used to repair Brigantine beaches and dunes that suffered damage during a powerful storm in January 2016.
According to Dr. Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at Stockton University, the areas used for sand mining in these types of projects are specifically chosen for their limited impact on wildlife habitat.
"Not very much lives there because it's way too dynamic. It's always changing so the environmental folks are fairly agreeable," Farrell said. "Nothing can sit there and survive."
Despite some weather setbacks, it's expected all dredging work will be completed in mid-March.
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