Posted on February 7, 2024
The village of Montauk is renowned as New York’s surf central, the East Coast’s version of the North Shore.
It’s lined with surf shops and surf spots, including the popular surf break, Ditch Plains Beach.
But like many surf-stoked towns, including the North Shore, Montauk’s coastline is facing severe erosion, made worse by severe winter storms. The answer? Montauk’s beaches are getting a facelift decades in the making.
East Hampton-based photographer Sutton Lynch shared the post above.
According to Lynch’s caption, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun beach restoration in Montauk. Around 450,000 cubic yards of sand will be dredged from a nearby site 3/4 miles offshore a few miles West, moved to town, and pumped onto the shoreline. That’s “roughly enough sand to fill 130 Olympic-sized swimming pools.”
Lynch wrote that the $11 million project is part of the $1.5 billion restoration project spanning 83 miles from Montauk to Fire Island, a stretch of New York’s coastline riddled with surf breaks.
He noted that the project’s initial stages are 100% federally funded, but the maintenance needed every four years “will be a local responsibility.”
Although the project was originally planned for 2025, recent storms took such a toll on the coastline, that they started early.
Lynch noted that while the project aims “to protect and restore coastal structures, dune habitats, and recreational beaches,” it can potentially negatively impact other natural processes and species like crabs and worms that are the main food source for seabirds and fish.
Despite the effort, Montauk’s beach erosion “is expected to become increasingly more detrimental in the coming years.” While the construction of hard structures like seawalls and artificial reefs might last longer, “soft engineering projects” like this are generally more sustainable and less intrusive.
“This problem is incredibly complex, especially considering how connected the local community and economy are to the beaches,” Lynch wrote.