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CCE PRESS CENTER

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 516-390-7150, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org
Maureen Murphy, Executive Programs Manager, 516-390-7150, 516-375-5425 (mobile), mmurphy@citizenscampaign.org

NATURE PROVIDES FREE OPPORTUNITY FOR A HEALTHY BAY

Environmentalists Urge New York to Keep “New Inlet” Open

Albany, NY—With a decision expected this week, Citizens Campaign for the Environment is urging New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens and Governor Cuomo to keep the breach known as “New Inlet” on Fire Island open. The breach, which was created within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness during Superstorm Sandy, is providing much needed flushing of the Great South Bay and improving water quality.

Despite the millions of dollars that have been invested in restoration work in recent years, water quality in the Great South Bay has significantly degraded, adversely impacting the local economy. Superstorm Sandy has exacerbated the problem, causing the release of raw and partially treated sewage, fuel oil, gasoline, household hazardous waste, and a potpourri of other pollutants into the already struggling south shore waters. However, the breach created by Sandy is now allowing the ocean waters to flush and clean the bay.

“While Mother Nature dealt a severe blow to our environment during Superstorm Sandy, she has also provided a precious opportunity to reverse years of declining water quality in the bay,” said Adrienne Esposito, CCE Executive Director. “New York must not squander this opportunity to help restore the bay and rebuild the local economy.”

Stony Brook University is monitoring the situation on Fire Island. Scientific analysis indicates that water quality in the bay is improving and that fears of flooding to the mainland may not be grounded in science.

“It is unfathomable to think that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation might disregard the expert testimony of nearly every marine scientist, coastal geologist, and fishermen on Long Island, all of whom agree that a flowing breach at this location provides tremendous gains to the environment and struggling water dependent economy of Great South Bay communities,” stated Carl LoBue, Sr. Marine Scientist for The Nature Conservancy in NY.

According to the 1997 Fire Island Breach Contingency Plan, a breach within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness triggers a 45-60 day monitoring period to assess the natural processes for the breach to fill in without assistance. The plan states that if the breach will not close naturally, it will be closed manually. Although the plan was well-intentioned at the time, it is woefully inadequate under today’s ecologic conditions.

“We can blindly follow an antiquated plan and waste millions of taxpayer dollars by artificially closing the breach, or we can follow the current science and help restore the bay for free,” continued Esposito. “We are counting on the DEC Commissioner Martens and Governor Cuomo to make the right decision.”
 

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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by bsmith  1/29/13