The Southampton Press recently published this letter from SDBF Marjorie Kuhn. CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the letter.
SOUTHAMPTON PRESS-WESTERN EDITION, JUNE 12, 2014
By Marjorie Kuhn
It’s not a matter of if, but rather a question of when. Well, “when” just happened; the ocean has once again breached the dunes in Hampton Bays.
When happened, and not for the first time in the recent past. Couple a high tide with a minor storm and, in April of this year, we had the perfect ingredients for a dune breach and washover in Hampton Bays. The ocean rolled over those dunes decimated by Superstorm Sandy, and pushed saltwater over the meager dunes just east of Tiana Beach, flooding the road. Wetlands filled in and Dune Road was isolated from all emergency services. This ongoing flooding and erosion, under relatively tame conditions, highlights the vulnerability of the stretch of Dune Road to a full-scale breach. And, as noted in a recent article in The Southampton Press about the washover, it brings with it the potential formation of a permanent inlet that could threaten neighborhoods on the mainland should a strong storm hit the East End [“Breach Renews Push To Raise Road,” May 8].
There are no homes near that stretch of coast, so there goes the argument that homes are causing the erosion. But, we already knew that because it has been documented by every responsible researcher who has taken a hard look to the east. Shinnecock Inlet is the culprit. It is creating a sand deficit by washing an estimated 60,000 cubic yards of sand per year from Quogue’s coastline.
Bottom line: Beach nourishment is a necessity from Quogue to East Quogue, continuing through Hampton Bays and right up to the Shinnecock Inlet. We are links in the same necklace of communities forming the west side of the barrier island and, thus, should be viewed as a continuum. Our neighbors to the east and west are already engaged in nourishment projects, and if you’re only as strong as your weakest link, guess who the weakest link is? We are!
Living near the coast has its risks and rewards, and is not for the faint of heart. Those of us who own beach homes are the stewards of the beach. Our job as beach dwellers includes doing what we can as a community to educate and advocate for beach and coastline maintenance. Whether you’ve owned your property for generations or are new to the area, with your ownership comes responsibility. It will be a betrayal to generations past and future ones if a laissez faire attitude is maintained and the beach is left at the mercy of the unforeseen.
The beach is open to all, a joy for generations, and has its place both spiritually and commercially for the whole community. No individual has a right to place the heritage of Quogue at risk.
The days of letting nature take its course ended in 1938, when a breach occurred, bay meeting ocean, and man inserted himself by creating the Shinnecock Inlet.
Beach nourishment is not new, nor would it set a precedent on our stretch of sand. Scientific data supports its use as maintenance against the rising sea and safeguarding of the mainland.
Join the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation and do your part to preserve Quogue’s ocean beaches. The Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the dunes and beaches of Quogue. Find out more at www.quoguebeaches.org/beach-restoration-project-update/.
Please join us for the first of three panel discussions on Saturday, June 21, at 2 p.m., at the Quogue Village courthouse. We will be joined by Dr. David R. Basco, a coastal engineer from Old Dominion University, and Jay Tanski from New York Sea Grant, Stony Brook.
Marjorie Kuhn is the president of the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation and one of its founders. She has been a property owner and part-time resident of Quogue Village for 30 years.