Happy New Year. The good news on beachfill, aka beach replenishment, is that the bill in the NJ State Legislature that would have doubled the amount of state money going into beachfill failed to pass at the end of the legislative session in mid-January. You helped us stop it! Thank you. Plus we joined forces with many other groups in a coalition that thinks the way we do.
Many bills that fail to pass are often pre-filed by their sponsors in the next legislative session which begins right away. However, this has not happened with this bill. It is possibly thanks to our new coalition of groups that is against the idea of doubling state funds for beachfill. The main sponsor of the legislation has met with us to try to understand our opposition as well as to find common ground with beachfill proponents.
But at this point, no new bill has been introduced and we think that is a good thing. We have stated that we are open to more money going into the Shore Protection Fund if that additional money can go for things like buyouts and living shorelines. If that is not the direction this bill goes, we would likely oppose it again if it just adds more money for beach replenishment.
The Bad News
We know it is heartbreaking to see replenishment happening again throughout Deal and down to the Asbury Park border. This stretch of coast seems to need it the least. Much of Deal is really a coastal bluff with many of the street ends 15 or 20 feet above sea level. But we had a meeting with NJDEP staff to get a better understanding of how and when specific projects get pumped again. Much of it has to do with the Water Resources Development Act, WRDA, in Congress that is passed every two years. If a project is appropriated more money in WRDA, then the state provides their share for that project. So, in a way, the state is at the mercy of the feds.
Nonetheless we will continue to fight against more money going to beach replenishment and in favor of properly funding alternatives; buyouts, relocations, living shorelines, and more. After all, even the Army Corps’ top person on climate change admitted, ten years ago, that if all you are doing is beach replenishment, then you are not in a sustainable position. Please see this video link. It is from the documentary about beach replenishment called Shored Up which came out in 2013.