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ACT, BBA protest replenishment cost-share proposals

DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, left, discusses the storm-damaged beaches with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, center-left, South Bethany Mayor Tim Saxton, center, and other South Bethany officials in May 2022, after the nor'easter

Posted on April 1, 2024

Tony Pratt worked as chief administrator for DNREC’s beach and shorelines division, which includes local waterways management, for more than 38 years. Some call Pratt the “dean of beach replenishment,” and he’s spearheading an effort with the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT) to protest DNREC’s cost-share proposals to split the costs of beach nourishment with area beach towns.

Pratt is currently executive director of the Bay Beach Association (BBA). The ACT and the BBA sent a joint letter last week to Gov. John Carney and Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings, endorsing action by a bi-partisan group of state legislators to create a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the State (DNREC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on predictable beach replenishment plans. That MOA would spell-out responsibilities of each party, state and federal, for “beach and dune restoration” before the end of the session on June 30.

“Our letter was meant to resolve any concerns between the State and the Army Corps, and get it resolved before June 30,” said Pratt. “The letter we sent is in support of the General Assembly request to approve the MOA, which states the obligations of each side for contracted civil works.”

The State has its own standards, and the federal government has its standards and obligations for ocean and coastal projects, said the former DNREC administrator.

Asked about the DNREC proposal to levy coastal towns with the charges for the sand and Army Corps of Engineers’ work to replenish local beaches, Pratt simply laughed. He said he believes such a local cost-share is not in DNREC’s purview.

“DNREC is just posturing right now,” said Pratt. “The agency must do what the governor and the General Assembly ask them to do, and they don’t dictate budgets as a state environmental agency.”

“Last time I worked in state government, the governor proposes a state budget, and the General Assembly adopts it or makes changes,” said Pratt. “It is the General Assembly that identifies the needs here and the budgets for our shorelines, and after it goes through a long hearing process, these lawmakers approve a fiscal budget.”

“DNREC is an agency that works very hard, but they are not in charge. There may be some ulterior motives going on and hidden agendas within this agency to try to assess these costs,” said Pratt. The  BBA, in partnership with the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT), is calling on Carney and Jennings to act on a deal that would protect and preserve the state’s bay beach shoreline. They are asking the State to coordinate with the federal government and create one simple policy for replenishment.

A letter of support signed by the leadership of both BBA and ACT was delivered to the governor and the AG last week.

“Our hope here is to lend our voices, in concert with our state lawmakers, to create a chorus that is undeniable and commands the attention of our governor and the attorney general,” ACT President and Bethany Beach Mayor Rosemary Hardiman said.

“Our beaches and coastline — the very lifeblood of our communities — do not exist as singular entities separated by political boundaries. They are one cohesive environment, and they require a cohesive approach and partnership at all levels — local, state and federal — to preserve and protect them for generations to come,” added BBA President Kathleen Lock.

“We need to have a project partnership,” said Pratt. “Oftentimes, these bay and beach replenishment programs are one-off projects.”


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