US ARMY CORPS of Engineers adopts Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA) design for modified beach replenishment project. For the better part of the last decade SEA activists, including the current acting executive director Andrew Mencinsky, have been working with local, state, and federal officials to modify the unnatural straight line design of beach fill projects. “Our position has been consistent from the beginning that the straight line and steep beaches created in New Jersey in what is the nations largest beach building project would destroy surfing and create unsafe swimming conditions. After proving the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association(ASBPA ), the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection(NJDEP) and the Army Corps of Engineers wrong on their stance, SEA set out to lobby for the sand feeder project. This plan would have less impact, create a potential surf spot and possibly have a longer lasting outcome than typical straight line projects. According to Mencinsky, this design is “intuitive engineering”. By visually studying beaches around the world and understanding local winds, waves and currents, we believe creating feeder sand points may be the solution in many areas where sand replenishment is the desired course for shore protection.
“Essentially”, said the DEP’s David Rosenblatt, “the design will create a protrusion of sand away from the shoreline”. This protrusion will serve as a “feeder beach”. As the sand erodes from the feeder beach, it will settle on the main beach.
This will, theoretically, extend the life span of the project and allow waves to break farther out to sea, improving surfing conditions and sparing the actual coast from a more direct battering. In short, this combination enhances shore protection.
Congressman Frank Pallone said it was NJDEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson who supported investing in the new design, which, if successful, could be used in other areas of the coastline.
Surfers have maintained for years that the old, straight-line beach renourishment destroyed surfing in other locations, particularly Sea Bright where 12 years after sand was first pumped on beaches there, the sport has virtually disappeared.
According to the DEP’s Rosenblatt, who is the administrator of the Office of Engineering and Construction, the new design could extend the life of the project without creating “undesirable effects of beach fills like in other areas of Monmouth County . . . like Sea Bright where the waves that used to be good for surfing more or less disappeared.”
Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken will analyze the movement of the sand and wave characteristics to see if the new design is successful in preserving recreational opportunities as well as enhancing shore protection, he said.
“We’ve been working with the surfing community over a number of years trying to devise a plan that might satisfy their interests and ours,” Rosenblatt explained. “This seems to be a logical project design.”
Pallone said he has had countless meetings over the last three years not only with surfers but with swimmers and body surfers who maintain that beach replenishment makes the beach more dangerous for swimmers and ruins the waves for surfers.
The new design will be implemented November 2008 in the west end section of Long Branch New Jersey. SEA will be monitoring and documenting the results of the project via aerial photos. We are working with LightHawk, a non-profit aviation organization dedicated to championing environmental issues through flight. Working with experienced volunteer pilots, LightHawk donates program flights to conservation and environmental groups working in ten countries. Many thanks to LightHawk for all of their support.
The Corp Reform Network is funding part of this project.
Last edited by shark-hunter; Apr 29, 2014 at 10:40 AM.
Surf Break Cancer
Northeast surf breaks face a catastrophic fate post Sandy.
By Jon Coen
Superstorm Sandy did her damndest to erase the Mid-Atlantic from the map. The common refrain from surfers is that no matter how high the water, how big the pile of debris, or how hard your insurance company is shafting you, you still have surfing.
Until you don’t.
New York and New Jersey surfers might face an even greater challenge now. As the aftermath unfolds in the coming years, the most valuable thing Sandy takes may prove to be our surf breaks in the face of beach replenishment.
In the mid-90s, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a New Jersey beachfill project where they pump sand from the ocean floor and then push it around the beach to counter erosion and protect against storm damage. But it buried the sandbars from Manasquan to Sea Bright, killing most every wave in a 21-mile stretch that had been a thriving surf scene since the 60s. Three surf shops in Long Branch alone went out of business. More recent projects in Harvey Cedars and Surf City diminished epic breaks for years.
“It almost killed my business,” recalls Derf McTighe, owner of Island Style Surf Shop. “Sea Bright didn’t come back for 15 years and that included dozens of surf spots. It was really hard.” Then came Sandy, which destroyed his shop. The building’s owner threw in the towel, and so McTighe will not be reopening the shop he ran for 36 years.
That may have only been a matter of time anyway. In the wake of Sandy’s destruction there’s been a political push for the most ambitious beach replenishment projects ever. Some towns have already been through this, but others that haven’t, like Atlantic Beach, Bay Head, Loch Arbor, Ship Bottom, Beach Haven, Lavallette, and others, could start seeing sand in the next few years. Add in the beaches scheduled for current ‘repair’ projects and we could see the government wipe out every break in one of the most vibrant US surf cultures outside Southern California. Now some of these past projects saved entire towns, so the other alternative might be for humans to surrender cherished barrier islands and coastal towns to Davey Jones. The options make a toll road sound pretty palatable, don’t they?
For some reason, Southern New Jersey breaks are largely unaffected from fill projects. Is it possible for the Army Corps to protect our coastal towns and not bury sacred sandbars? “When they did these projects in the 90s, they said the wave would come back better than ever. And 13 years later, it still wasn’t breaking,” says Richie Lee, the tireless Executive Director for Surfers Environmental Alliance, who’s worked with countless officials to minimize impacts to Monmouth County breaks. “We battled them for 15 years. But in the last five, it’s been a collaborative effort.
“In 2008, Long Branch was the first project to create a feeder beach to help produce offshore sand bars. In Monmouth Beach, the 2011 project was designed to save a surf break with successful results that were documented on Transworld Surfs’ pages. These results were duplicated in 2012 and 2013.”
The key has been working at a hyper-local level, talking with mayors and councils to explain the need for the offshore sandbar that makes waves break, not only for surfing but swimming, fishing and tourism.
Aside from a few tireless SEA and Surfrider folks, most surfers have opted for the *****-and-moan role rather than engaged activist for nearly two decades. But sand is coming.
“It’s important for surfers and other beach users to understand that if they’d like to see changes to future projects, they must engage their local politicians,” says Donald Cresitello. He’s in the unique position of being a lifelong surfer, but also a coastal engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers. Even if the mayor of a town is scared ****less of the next storm, he or she has the final say as to what the project is.
“I don’t know if they are going to go back to the original design,” ponders McTighe, “For the kids, that would take away a generation of wave riding. I don’t want to see them repeat the same mistakes. It would be nice if they can find the plan that will benefit everyone.”
I can only speak for the beach fill projects in my home town. Been surfing here since the early 80s. Our first beach fill was in 1992 and we've had scheduled beach fills about every 3 years since. The first beach fill was a shocker. All of our old surf breaks were gone. Within a couple of months though new ones emerged and some old ones came back better than ever. With each beach fill since our surf has actually improved after the usual couple of months of sand moving around and creating new bars. Our surf is better than ever. Our waves have better shape than ever as well. The younger crowd wouldn't believe how poor the surf was here before our beach fill projects compared to what we have today.
Change is always scary but sometimes it is for the better. I also can't help but wonder if my home would have been wiped off the map in Sandy if not for the beach fills. As it was I had 4 feet of water in the house. Without the added sand and dunes there could have been 6 foot waves rolling down the streets instead of calm standing water.
Interior water line post Sandy. Window is shoulder height off the floor.