Is it Time to Let New Jersey's Beaches Go Natural?

For decades, New Jersey's coastal communities have been the beneficiaries of artificial beach nourishment, at great expense. After Sandy washed away hundreds of million of dollars of sand, some are suggesting it's time for a strategic retreat.
pmarkham / Flickr

Superstorm Sandy has turned a spotlight on the long simmering debate over the artificial maintenance of beaches along New Jersey's coast with sand pumped from offshore. After Sandy swept away "enormous quantities of sand," both proponents and opponents of "artificial beach nourishment" are reconsidering the practice, reports Cornelia Dean.

"Opponents of beach nourishment argue that undeveloped beaches deal well with storms. Their sands shift; barrier islands may even migrate toward the mainland. But the beach itself survives, because buildings and roads do not pin it down," says Dean. "By contrast, replenishment projects often wash away far sooner than expected. The critics say the best answer to coastal storms is to move people and buildings away from the water, a tactic some call strategic retreat."

"Supporters of these projects counter that beaches are infrastructure - just like roads, bridges and sewer systems - that must be maintained. They say beaches attract tourists and summer residents, conferring immense economic benefits that more than outweigh the costs of the projects. Also, they argue, these beaches absorb storm energy, sparing buildings inland."

 

Full Story: Costs of Shoring Up Coastal Communities

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 7 different cities.
$22.00
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95