Sandbag wall threatens surfing in Montauk

November 11, 2015 | Environment
Montauk: sandbag wall are not a solution

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) started to build a sandbag wall in New York's most famous surfing region. The surf breaks will inevitably change.

Montauk, Long Island, might be lost forever. The spot is one of the best peaks on the entire East Coast, but local authorities still believe that artificial coastal protection is the best solution against flooding.

After multiple public discussions, protests, and court recommendations, the Army Corps of Engineers got the green light and began stacking more than 14,000 geotextile bags along 3,100 feet of the dune.

"The science is clear: seawalls will inevitably destroy the beach. The politicians, all of them, were fully informed, but chose to surrender a community asset to private interests," notes the environmental group Defend H20.

"During storm surges, the bags will become exposed, and the reflected wave energy will cause the accelerated erosion of the beach. And, the notion that the bags can be removed if problems arise is highly impractical, if not nonsensical. Fourteen thousand plus bags weighing in at 1.7 tons each isn't a dune, and it isn't temporary."

Montauk: Surfrider Foundation protests against geotextile bags | Photo: Surfrider

Get a Bill Fill

Last Sunday, over 100 surfers paddled out at South Edison Beach and protested against the sandbag project. Out in the water, they formed a symbolic "line of defense" against sand dune armoring in Montauk.

According to the Surfrider Foundation, "in the short term, the simple construction of dunes and berm reconfiguration - without a geotextile bag core - would provide temporary protection without the impacts of the seawall."

The non-governmental surf organization considers that "in the longer term, a well designed and constructed bill fill ("nourishment") project can provide temporary protection, but is costly and will likely impact the nearshore habitats, beach-going, and surfing."

Surfrider proposes the relocation of the structures along the beach landward, if possible. Alternatively, environmentalists believe that these structures should be removed so that the primary dune can be restored.

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