Posted on October 11, 2021
DEAL – A new coalition opposed to beach replenishment wants to use alternative methods to protect the shoreline instead of pumping millions of cubic yards of sand onto the beach.
New sand, the coalition argues, does more to protect wealthy homeowners, damages the coastal ecology and ultimately washes back into the sea and has to be replaced.
“Beach replenishment is not the ultimate solution for dealing with climate change, storm surges and sea-level rise,” said Taylor McFarland, acting director of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter. “We have continued to watch failed beach replenishment projects pump millions of dollars of sand on our beaches that just wash away in the next storm.”
Bill Rosenblatt, a former mayor of Loch Arbour and Surfrider Foundation volunteer, said another consequence of beach replenishment is more beachfront development, and not with low-cost homes, but with multimillion-dollar mansions and condos. He said that’s created a “contingency that cries for more beach renourishment.”
All told, according to the coalition’s figures, over $1.5 billion has been spent on beach replenishment since dredge and fill operations began in New Jersey in 1989.
In the short run, the 21 groups that make up the coalition — which met here on Thursday at Hathaway Beach — want the New Jersey Legislature to reject two bills, S-1071 and A-639, that would double the amount of money the state puts toward beach replenishment each year from $25 million to $50 million.
The coalition’s long-term goal is to stop beach replenishment and pivot toward buyouts and relocations of existing homeowners and preserving what little open space is left now. The group urges the state to invest more in protective dunes and establishing stronger building codes for homes at the beach.
At the very least, if beach replenishment is to continue, the coalition urges that a new funding formula be created that would require beachfront property owners to pay the lion’s share of the costs instead of putting the burden on taxpayers.
“These 21 groups are all saying enough is enough.” said Ross Kushner, a Surfrider Foundation volunteer. “We’ve spent $1.5 billion on beach replenishment in N.J. alone with no end in sight. The tool is overused.”