Public Discussion of the Fire Island Breach at the Old Inlet Draws over 600, Vast Majority of Which State -- Don't Close It

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Saturday’s 2 1/2 hour discussion, keynoted by Dr. Charles Flagg of SoMAS, with presentations by Kevin McAllister oof Peconic Bay Keeper and Joseph Gagliano, Chairman of The Bellport Village Waterfront Commission, laid out a compelling case.

"As such", commented Marshall Brown of STGSB, “a broad, large scale and long term plan needs to be implemented for all our coastal communities.

A near-capacity audience, with individuals representing the scientific, environmental, commercial and residential communities all along The Great South Bay heard a compelling discussion on the breach at The Old Inlet in a gathering sponsored by SUNY Stonybrook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) on Saturday, March 23 at Bellport Middle School.    Save The Great South Bay (STGSB) brought about a hundred attendees to the event out of the approximately 600 in all.

Saturday’s discussion focused on the breach at The Old Inlet, which was reopened by Hurricane Sandy. Some politicians, most notably Senator Schumer and Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone, have been calling for The Old Inlet to be closed, blaming it for the repeated flooding of various South Shore communities. Here, an array of environmental groups, baymen, scientists, anglers, local residents and local officials, some of whom have been flooded out themselves, spoke out in favor of leaving the breach alone, presenting the data to show that the breach is in no way contributing to flooding, while noting the dramatic improvements in water clarity, oxygen and nitrogen levels, and a return of wildlife.

Saturday’s 2 1/2 hour discussion, keynoted by Dr. Charles Flagg of SoMAS, with presentations by Kevin McAllister or Peconic Bay Keeper and Joseph Gagliano, Chairman of The Bellport Village Waterfront Commission, laid out a compelling case. In the end, of the 600 attendees, only one spoke in favor of closing the breach, citing repeated flooding. As for the actual cause of the repeated flooding, the panel offered this sobering conclusion: It appears to be part of a much larger ‘sea change,’ one that extends from the Carolinas to Maine, and which appears to have its origins in global warming and its effects on sea ice, weather patterns, and ocean currents.

"As such", commented Marshall Brown of STGSB, “a broad, large scale and long term plan needs to be implemented for all our coastal communities. Numerous issues have to be addressed -- habitat destruction, storm runoff, continued extreme weather, housing in areas that will become increasingly flood prone, as well as septic tank seepage, with nitrogenous waste already our ground water making its way inevitably into the bay.”

The local and state politicians who support closing the breach chose not to attend Saturday’s meeting, and were not represented by staff. In favor of leaving the breach alone and exercising their First Amendment rights were individuals from approximately 20 different organizations, including— but not limited to:

The Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition, Brookhaven Affiliated Civic Organization, The Nature Conservancy, Citizens Campaign for The Environment, Long Island Sound Lobsterman’s Association, Coastal Conservation Association, South Bay Cruising Club, Operation Splash, The Village of Bellport, Surfrider Foundation, Pattersquash Creek Civic Association

About STGSB:

STGSB, founded this August just prior to Sandy, is a new organization that in 2013 has gained thus far nearly 550 members. This spring and summer, it is planning several events to increase awareness of the bay’s plight, offering how people can get involved in the effort to restore the bay for their children and grandchildren. More information on the issues at hand can be found at http://www.savethegreatsouthbay.org and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/savethegreatsouthbay or at http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheGSB.
STGSB thanks Desktop Alert Inc. http://www.desktopalert.net with generous funding support in helping STGSB restore a healthy, vital Great South Bay.

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