Dauphin Island, AL
Archive of Historical Data, Books, Maps
And Other Materials
MOBILE REGISTER Taken from the EDITORIAL PAGE
Islanders getting serious
Monday, December 22, 2008
AFTER YEARS of relying
on expensive sand piles for protection, Dauphin Island residents are getting
down to the serious business of trying to save the island's vanishing west
end. A lawsuit that sought to block public ownership of the west end beach
was settled last week, clearing the way for the Town of Dauphin Island to
seek state and federal funding for a large-scale beach restoration project.
The Dauphin Island Property Owners Association has owned the beach since
1954. Association members voted last year to open it to the public - the
first step in qualifying for state and federal beach renourishment funds.
The vote was prompted by massive beach erosion and the encroachment of the
Gulf on private development in the area.
Fortunately, the contending parties in the lawsuit worked out an agreement
that serves the interests of island residents and the broader public interest
in maintaining Dauphin Island as a recreational and ecological asset for
Island residents can't halt the natural forces that drive the shifting sands
of the barrier island, but they can follow the example of other U.S. coastal
communities and invest in beach renourishment projects that mitigate the
damage from storms and erosion.
Renourishment surely is a better alternative than building sand berms that
collapse when hurricanes and tropical storms make landfall anywhere in the
northern Gulf. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has wasted millions
of dollars constructing berms that gave west end residents only limited
and temporary protection.
It's by no means certain that renourishment will save the island's west
end. Engineering studies should provide an answer; the town needs to request
them as soon as possible.
Funding still is very much an issue for the town, the state and the federal
government. The town probably will have to seek new revenue sources to pay
for its share of a beach restoration project.
The good news is that islanders are facing the reality of their situation
and preparing for a major effort to restore the west end. They deserve support
from the state, if beach renourishment proves feasible in that fragile area.
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Gulf Information Pages, Dauphin Island, AL