The NPCA press release concerning the Fire Island National Seashore being one of the ten most endangered parks has several serious errors:
1. The Corps of Engineers is not “proposing” anything. At a cost of several million dollars and several years of study, the Corps responded to a request by Members of Congress and the State of New York to survey the south shore of Long Island and recommend methods of reducing storm damage. The Corps’ EIS was the subject of a public hearing in January 2000 where it was broadly supported by residents in the project area and in areas of the Long Island mainland that would be benefited by a stronger barrier island. In November 1999, the State indicated it expected to support the project if no new information arose either at the hearing or in the 30-day comment period. Nothing new arose, but the state has yet even to comment officially.
2. The Corps’ draft EIS did not recommend “protect[ing] a number of private homes.” The project described was cost justified based on the protection provided to the barrier island itself and to properties and infrastructure in low-lying mainland areas of Long Island’s south shore.
3. No “experts in coastal processes” have shown that “building on the dunes accelerates beach erosion.” The available evidence indicates no causal connection between dune structures and erosion.
4. Nor will placement of sand on the beach “disrupt the nesting of the endangered piping plover.” No Corps beach replenishment project can go forward during the nesting season of an endangered species. If NPCA is at all knowledgeable about the subject matter, it knows this; hence, its purpose must be to mislead the public and Members of Congress by asserting that “the [beach nourishment] process will disrupt the nesting…” In fact, where beaches have been renourished (at West Hampton Dunes, for example) the piping plover has flourished, another well known fact ignored by NPCA in a deliberate attempt to mislead.
5. The only way to “restore” the natural dune system is with sand replenishment. Previous manipulation of the coast (inlet stabilization and groin fields to the east) has made it impossible for Long Island’s south shore beaches to restore themselves naturally.
6. “Buy outs,” “land swaps” and land use regulations are the subject of current discussions in which NPCA does not participate.
7. This is not the first attempt by NPCA to manipulate the media in its quest for member dollars. In March 2000 NPCA issued a press release announcing a $2500 award to the Superintendent of the Fire Island National Seashore for his opposition to the Corps of Engineers/DEC shore protection recommendations. FIA wrote to the president of NPCA, noting that conferring an award to attract attention to an issue was an “old PR ploy.” Neither that letter, nor letters of April 4, 1998 and July 14, 1999 were acknowledged. Here, NPCA continues its efforts to attract attention by naming a “10 worst” list, and holding a press conference about it for a news hungry media. Members of Congress should be aware that these tactics are designed first and foremost to attract attention to NPCA and its need to “feed the [membership] beast.”
We stand ready to answer questions and to debate these issues in any forum at any time.
Gerard Stoddard, Fire Island Association
263 West 20th Street, New York NY 10011-3542