Do nothing unless we have to. That’s what the National Park Service prefers and is proposing to do — or not do — when it comes to the handling of the Fire Island breach at Old Inlet.
The breach was ripped open by superstorm Sandy four years ago this month.
This is according to the much-anticipated Draft Fire Island Wilderness Breach Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement that was made available online today, Friday.
The 45-day public review and comment period on the draft starts Oct. 28.
Click here for a link to the full, 184-page document. Indication of the National Park Service’s preferred approach appears on Page ix of the executive summary.
According to the Park Service, the draft Breach Plan/EIS evaluates three alternatives:
Alternative 1 (Closure Using Mechanical Processes) would mechanically close the breach as soon as possible.
Alternative 2 (Status Determined Entirely by Natural Processes) is the no-action alternative; this alternative would allow the management of the breach under natural processes, to include evolution and potential growth and/or natural closure.
Alternative 3 (No Human Intervention unless Established Criteria are Exceeded), the proposed action, is identified as the Seashore’s preferred alternative. Under alternative 3, the evolution, growth, and/or closure of the breach would be determined by natural barrier island processes, and human intervention to close the breach would occur only “to prevent loss of life, flooding, and other severe economic and physical damage to the Great South Bay and surrounding areas,” as allowed by the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Act.
If the breach were to close naturally, no intervention would be taken to reopen it.
The 1,500-wide breach was ripped open during superstorm Sandy in 2012, after which several public officials up and down the South Shore immediately called for its closure — fearing bay waters would rise and lead to repeated flooding of shoreline homes.
Proponents of keeping the breach open, including leading marine scientists on Long Island, contend the breach is not causing bay waters to rise.
Not only that, it’s making for a cleaner bay and healthier ecosystem, they say.
Brookhaven Town officials, including Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Michael Loguercio, had all called on the federal government to leave it alone.
A public meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 7 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 pm at the Patchogue-Watch Hill Ferry Terminal at 150 West Ave. in Patchogue. Comments may also be submitted online at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/FireIslandBreachManagementPlan.
Written comments may be mailed to: Chris Soller, Superintendent, Fire Island National Seashore, 120 Laurel Street Patchogue, NY 11772.
Photo: A still from the documentary called The Breach, released last year.