2001-07-07 / Front Page

Funding for Beaches:

Funding for Beaches:

House Wants More

By Gary G. Toms

The House Appropriations Committee made protecting our nation’s coast a clear priority this week when it increased the funding for beach properties 75% over the administration’s $80 million recommendation. The proposed funding will more than double the amount of money that is slated for the beaches of Rockaway.

The total Committee financial year 2002 budget recommendation for beach projects came to roughly $152 million, almost 20% more than last year’s record setting $128 million congressional budget. However, the increased funding recommendations did not fully cover all beach projects. There were no new shore protection projects this year, nor did the Committee’s budget recommendation fully fund the recommended cost of many replenishment projects.

The Committee took a bold step by rejecting the Bush Administration’s proposed reversal of the formula for funding shore protection projects, which is currently 65% federal and 35% local. In doing so, the House Appropriation’s Committee was also casting aside the recent criticism that engineered shore protection projects have received in recent weeks.

According to reports in The New York Times, many government representatives voiced their displeasure over the proposed funding because they feel it will not improve the conditions that are facing the nation’s beaches.

The Army Corps of Engineers concedes that the funding is costly and pointless. Their argument is that the sand transplanted in vast quantities to erode beaches will disappear again with the waves and you will have to keep replacing it over and over again. This will take too much effort and the cost will be staggering. They also make the point that for the dozens of projects already approved, the bill to taxpayers from now to 2050 is expected to exceed $6 billion.

In any case, the Committee has made it abundantly clear that it wants the federal share of existing shore protection projects to remain at the 65% level. However, it remains to be seen if Congress will be willing to fund new shore protection projects at this high level of support in the future.

"We have a long way to go in establishing a comprehensive shore protection policy," said Howard Marlowe, a Washington lobbyist who represents many coastal communities as well as the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. "Until we have such a policy, there will always be a battle on Capitol Hill when it comes to funding for beach replenishment projects. For now, I am truly delighted by the bill that came out of the House Appropriation’s Committee this week."

The 2002 budget proposes that $50,000, from the President and the House, be directed toward the beaches of the Arvene community. However, from Rockaway Inlet to North Point, New York, the House is requesting $900,000 for replenishment efforts, while Bush is only offering $300,000. Similarly, Bush is only offering $1,230,000 to cover the Rockaway Inlet to Jamaica Bay, while the House is asking for $2,284,000 in funding.

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