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Birding on Dauphin Island

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Town of Dauphin Island-Municipal Government

Dauphin Island, AL
Archive of Historical Data, Books, Maps
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Taken from the EDITORIAL PAGE
Dauphin Island needs
beach renourishment

Monday, June 01, 2009

GIVE DAUPHIN Island residents credit for abandoning the dubious, costly and temporary protection of government-funded sand berms.

The Dauphin Island Town Council recently voted down a proposal to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund yet another sand berm on the island's rapidly eroding west end. Since 2002, the pounding waves of the Gulf of Mexico have destroyed two berms. Tropical Storm Isidore wiped out the first and Hurricane Gustav flattened the second one.

Clearly, it's time for island residents to pursue a better answer to the erosive force of the Gulf. The sand berms cost taxpayers about $4.5 million, but the protection they provided was limited and temporary. Homeowners on the fragile west end have watched that part of the island gradually disappear under the waves' assault. They understand better than government bureaucrats that, as a town council member put it, a berm is only "a Band-Aid."

At a meeting last month, property owners voiced unanimous opposition to a plan to build a berm along the south edge of Bienville Boulevard. Many residents were concerned that the berm would limit access to their beachfront homes.

The larger issue, however, is the costly futility of constructing berms that can't survive Gulf storms.

Town officials understand that the only long-term solution to the west end's woes is a beach renourishment project designed to preserve the entire barrier island. Renourishment projects have restored beaches in Baldwin County and helped fortify threatened beaches on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

In an effort to save Mississippi's barrier islands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to dredge 22 million cubic yards of sand - some of it from sources in Alabama. Dauphin Island officials understandably wonder: Why isn't our island included in that project?

One of the reasons that Dauphin Island is shrinking is that the Corps of Engineers has dredged 20 million cubic yards of sand from the Mobile Ship Channel. In an op-ed column published by the Press-Register, Scott L. Douglass, a professor of civil engineering at the University of South Alabama, wrote that the dredging created a "sand deficit" for Dauphin Island's beaches.

In our view, Congress and the Corps of Engineers should do their part to help restore Dauphin Island. The island is an economic asset for Alabama and a national ecological treasure.

So let's stop building berms - and start replenishing the island's dwindling supply of sand.

Fort Gaines Sand Island Light House Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island Dauphin Island History Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium

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