Posted on March 13, 2017
By Dan Radel, app.com
The state Department of Environmental Protection said it will act to get Little Egg Inlet open in time for the summer.
The sand build up in the inlet has gotten to the point where the U.S. Coast Guard removed the navigational buoys Monday, effectively making the inlet an enter at your own risk affair for boaters.
“This situation has become critical so we are moving forward, using state money, to dredge the channel and make it safe again for everyone who needs this vital access for fishing and recreation,” DEP commissioner Bob Martin said. “We need to take action to get this channel dredged for the safety and enjoyment of the public this summer season.”
The DEP announced Thursday it plans to expedite a project that will clear dangerous shoals from the Inlet, a major thoroughfare for boat traffic between southern Long Beach Island and Brigantine to the south.
The sand will be used to replenish beaches on portions of southern Long Beach Island lost to storms over the past several months.
The DEP’s Division of Coastal Engineering is developing the permit applications, design plans and contract specifications with the expectation of going out to bid for the multimillion-dollar project next month.
One of the widest ocean inlets in New Jersey, Little Egg Harbor Inlet is a natural inlet with no jetty structure to stabilize it.
It is extremely dynamic, with shoals constantly shifting with the seasons. It is a federally marked waterway but the inlet has never been dredged, according to the state.
Instead, the Coast Guard every year used buoys to mark the deepest and safest natural route through the inlet, which provides connections to the Little Egg Harbor portion of Barnegat Bay, Great Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Charter boat captain Lindsay Fuller of the June Bug docks in Beach Haven and said the inlet is a continuing victim of Hurricane Sandy. He said sand has moved routinely from along Long Beach Island’s beaches down to clog up the Inlet but the Hurricane hurried things up.
He said situation is putting at risk the Beach Haven charter fishing industry.
The project will focus on shoaling of sand that has taken place on the ocean side of the inlet. The Coast Guard-marked channel in this area has at times extended as far as a mile into the ocean.
An estimated 1 million to 1.5 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged to create a channel that is 25 feet below mean sea level.
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The project, which will require U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits, will be designed to have negligible to no impact on the nearby Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge or migrations of fish.
The sand will be used on beaches on southern Long Beach Island that sustained erosion as the result of storms since the completion last year of a major beach fill and dune project.