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We need money and a plan to fix N.J.’s dunes before it’s too late, lawmakers say

08 Oct 2015

We need money and a plan to fix N.J.’s dunes before it’s too late, lawmakers say

Posted by with - in 2015
As the tides and floodwaters receded from the weekend’s storm, it took sand with it — sand needed to protect the Jersey Shore.

South Jersey lawmakers have been looking for ways to mitigate the beach erosion before another storm comes to the Jersey Shore.

“If you talk to almost all of our barrier islands, they will tell you that, the ones that have had the (dune) construction projects, there was probably a tremendous amount of property that was saved due to the dune system,” said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2). “That was the first line of defense. ”

Leading up to and after the storm, LoBiondo has been meeting with local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to figure out how to protect the Jersey Shore from future weather events — especially now that many of the protective dunes have been eroded.

Over the course of 30 years, more than $1 billion has been spent on beach replenishment, according to coastal researchers.

High tides carved eight-foot-high cliffs into dunes on North Wildwood’s beach and a house was swept into the water in Middle Township.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1) and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (D-1) sent a letter Tuesday to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Army Corps of Engineers asking for a meeting to discuss beach replenishment plans.

“I would just like to see that we have a vision of exactly where we are going — a vision of protection for the future and a sense of where we are now,” Van Drew said.

Van Drew is also sponsoring legislation (S-2775) in the Senate that would increase the Shore Protection Fund from $25 million to $50 million. Shore Protection Fund finances projects like beach replenishment and also construction and maintenance of bulkheads, jetties and seawalls, according to the DEP. Funding comes from realty transfer fee revenue.

An identical bill (A-4215) is also in the General Assembly. One of the sponsors is Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-1).

“After talking with a lot of the elected officials over in those areas, we find that $25 million was set so many years ago and it doesn’t stretch as far as it used to,” Fiocchi said.

The Senate bill was introduced in March and the General Assembly bill was introduced in February. Both remain in committee.

Fiocchi is proposing to reactivate the Beach Erosion Commission, which has not been active since 2001.

“You not only get elected officials but you get people from the private sector and private citizens that come together,” Fiocchi said.

With Hurricane Joaquin moving east, the Jersey Shore was spared further damage, but there is still time for another storm to blow through.

“We still have a ways to go for our hurricane and nor’easter season,” Fiocchi said. “We still have a month-and-a-half left so luckily this wasn’t too bad. It puts everyone on high alert like they should be.”

Don E. Woods may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @donewoods1. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

Don E. Woods | For NJ.comBy Don E. Woods | For 
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on October 08, 2015 at 2:00 PM, updated October 08, 2015 at 3:18 PM

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