NEW YORK –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, has completed contracted emergency dredging of an interim 200-foot-wide deep-water passage of ten feet through the highly dynamic Moriches Inlet. This out-of-cycle emergency work was done to remove the hazardous sand shoals that were closing the inlet and preventing U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue vessels from using the inlet to respond to lifesaving missions within Moriches Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, following a series of four unusual Nor’easter storms in March of 2018.
On April 17th, New York District received an Emergency Declaration from its North Atlantic Division higher headquarters to perform minimal emergency dredging of the Moriches Inlet to restore safe passage for U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue vessels. The Emergency Declaration allowed for expedited coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the listed endangered bird species, Piping Plover; the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding relevant fisheries species in the area, the U.S. Coast Guard – Sector Long Island; the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the State of New York Department of State, as well as contracting a dredging company to perform the work.
The expedited work involved dredging and removal of an approximately 120,000 cubic yards of sand to create the 200-foot-wide, 10-foot-deep passage thru the inlet. The dredged sand was placed five miles west of Moriches Inlet within Smith Point County Park to avoid the Federally-listed endangered bird species’, Piping Plover, shoreline habitat within Smith Point County Park. This placement was one mile east of the park pavilion.
The work was accomplished with a contracted cutter-head suction dredge and 30,000 linear feet of pipeline submerged along the shoreline in the Atlantic Ocean to transfer sand five miles westward where bulldozers shaped the sand to match the adjacent areas and provide additional coastal storm risk reduction measures by keeping the sand in the westward moving coastal system.
The U.S. Coast Guard - Sector Long Island will update its Notice to Mariners advising that the interim passage has been created, and has been asked to mark the deep water passage with Aids to Navigation buoys.
"This was a total team effort by an outstanding group of professionals who do this type of work for the Corps of Engineers on a daily basis,” said New York District Commander Col. Thomas D. Asbery. “The emergency dredging of Moriches Inlet will restore safe navigation for the residents of Long Island and the opportunity to beneficially reuse this sand to supplement coastal storm risk reduction measures within Smith Point County Park. I’d like to thank members of Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard, New York State DEC, members of the Department of Interior's U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Park Service as well as our higher headquarters for their support. This has been a complicated and challenging effort to expedite this job within a very dynamic ocean inlet due to deteriorating sea conditions over the last few months but we got it done.”
“With the completion of the emergency dredging for Moriches Inlet, it should be fairer winds and following seas for local fisherman, boaters, businesses and first responders. I want to thank the local community for raising alarm bells and the Army Corps of Engineers for recognizing the urgency of this situation and heeding the bi-partisan call for an emergency dredge with all due haste,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“After being pummeled by an unprecedented series of winter storms last year, the completion of the emergency dredge of Moriches Inlet is great news for our coastal economy, commercial and recreational fishermen and all whose livelihoods rely on the vitality of our communities' waterways. Thank you to Colonel Asbery and his amazing team at the Army Corps for their hard work, sense of urgency, and cooperation along the way. I'm also grateful for everyone else involved with this big, non-partisan effort in and out of government, including the local fishermen and residents who have been incredible advocates in restoring the safe navigation of the inlet,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin.