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National Park Service Wants Fire Island Breach Left Open

The National Park Service prefers to keep the Fire Island breach that was caused by superstorm Sandy open as part of the implementation of the 1997 Breach Contingency Plan after the damaging storm in 2012. The plan is part of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study and it’scarried out by The State University of New York at Stony Brook, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other coastal experts.

The National Park service predicts the breach won’t surpass 1 ½ miles due to “geological controls” made from layers of clay. However, if the breach does surpass the expected width, the agency will closely monitor and analyze it to decide whether to close it. In its draft environmental impact report, the National Park Service said if they decided to close it, it would be “to prevent loss of life, flooding, and other severe economic and physical damage to the Great South Bay and surrounding areas.”

Environmentalists and fishermen say the breach has improved water quality, although local South Shore residents say the breach is doing damage and has made flooding worse. Scientists have responded by saying the breach only lets in part of the water that flows through Great South Bay navigational channels.

The most recent measurements were carried out in May, measuring the breach at 2,345 feet on the south end to 1,476 feet on the north end at the time.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said in a statement regarding the breach, They must keep an eye on this to make sure it does not widen or create flooding on the South Shore” although he did call it a “wise approach to keep the inlet open.”

For more information on National Park Service’s involvement in monitoring the breach, click here: https://www.nps.gov/fiis/learn/nature/monitoring-the-wilderness-breach.htm.

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