October 11, 2014

SURFRIDER FOUNDATION OPPOSES MONTAUK GEO-BAG PROPOSAL

On Thursday, October 9, 2014, Eastern Long Island Chapter of Surfrider Foundation staged a protest of the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to construct an artificial dune on the publicly owned beach in downtown Montauk. The proposed work includes placing 14,000 sand bags – each weighing 1.7 tons – along 3,100 linear feet of the ocean intertidal zone seaward of the existing motels and seaward of the natural primary dune line in that area. The bags will be covered with a layer of sand and planted with beachgrass, a cosmetic touch that coastal geologist Rob Young describes as “the lipstick on the pig.”

This proposal flies in the face of the advice of three well known and respected coastal geologists that have reviewed the situation in downtown Montauk: Dr. Robert Young, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, and Dr. Orrin Plikey. All three have stated that sand-filled geotextile bags mimic bulkheads and other hard structures in terms of their impact on beaches. This Army Corps of Engineers proposal prioritizes the value and protection of privately owned commercial structures over that of the public beach.

Surfrider Foundation’s position is that our public beach is our greatest asset and its long term protection warrants top priority. Reflected wave energy from the geotextile bags will quickly erode the public beach. We also note that the motels were constructed many years ago on top of the existing primary dune, destroying that precious natural resource. This proposal will compound the mistakes made in the 1960s and 1970s: it will result in the destruction of the beach in addition to the already destroyed primary dune.

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Surfrider Foundation members stand in the 50-foot-wide footprint of the proposed geotextile bag artificial dune that will destroy downtown Montauk’s public beach.