by John Post, President, Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation
All of us who love Quogue must recognize that its dunes and beaches face serious peril – a danger with grave implications for the entire economy of the Village.
The threat, long feared, is now upon us. Quogue has suffered progressive erosion since the 1938 hurricane broke through at Shinnecock. The jetty system constructed at Shinnecock Inlet has year by year robbed us of 50% of the sand naturally moving east to west along the oceanfront. All told so far, the Inlet has stolen over 11,000,000 cubic yard of sand from Quogue Village’s 2.7 miles of beach. The beach may appear “Fine” now, a beach about fifty feet wide—but records from the 1950’s show our beach used to be 300 feet wide! The average horizontal retreat per year is approximately four linear feet.
This is not, as some believe, the result of periodic ebb and flow. It is the relentless result of Shinnecock. That is why the erosion is progressive. That is why complacency is so menacing to us all.
Our beach with less sand is lower and narrower. We have lost the Very real benefits of protection from the usual north east storms by higher and wider beach- benefits to wild life as well. Hence, the necessity to scrape sand and to rebuild annually.
But that is not enough. The most serious risk is the next major hurricane could very well cause a wash over reaching the canal followed by a breach and widening to an inlet, a devastating environmental catastrophe that will flood the mainland. Note the Little Pike Inlet in 1992 into Moriches Bay. Conditions have become even more hazardous with rising sea levels and increased severity of storms. While a huge hurricane is unlikely, (it’s been 75 years), it cannot be ruled out. We would be wise to acknowledge the adage:
“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Beach nourishment, pumping compatible, tested sand from the ocean floor onto the beach, is a proven, recognized method to protect the barrier island and thus the mainland. Quogue is blessed with approximately 30,000,000 cubic yards of off shore compatible sand that is accessible. There are many effective “case studies” along the east coast, (including one of our neighbors, West Hampton Dunes). It is a cost justifiable, responsible approach to avoid loss of beach and a breach.
Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, Inc., an approved 501©3 not-for-profit community organization, studied many methods to halt erosion, such as seawalls and offshore breakwaters. Coastal specialists have shown that the installation of bulkheads and other barriers on oceanfront properties reduces the beach in front, promotes backwash and indeed creates further erosion. Beach nourishment is by far the best way to rebuild the beach and protect the Village. It is a proven environmental solution endorsed by numerous municipalities and government agencies. Indeed, Quogue Village will receive a permit for this work only after a proper environmental review, now in progress.
Our goal is to protect and benefit all Quogue residents by rebuilding the beach and preventing a breach. Our website has factual documentation of the overwhelming case for action. We urge all Quogue residents to support beach nourishment. We have a duty to our whole community, to a precious heritage and to the next generation. The erosion will not be stopped by talk.