NJDEP to Request Coast Guard Mark Boating Channel in Little Egg Inlet

Follows Completion of $18.4 Million Dredging, Beachfill Project
Apr 11, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill Little Egg Inlet

Now that contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. has completed a project to repair storm-damaged beaches of southernmost Long Beach Island with sand dredged from Little Egg Inlet, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection will place a request with the U.S. Coast Guard to mark the boating channel for the inlet.

The $18.4 million project – paid for via the DEP’s Shore Protection Fund – included clearing shoals from the inlet, a major thoroughfare for boat traffic between southern LBI and Brigantine, to clear a navigable boat channel 24 feet below mean sea level “to accommodate the numerous commercial and recreational fishing vessels, private boats and other craft that use the inlet to access Barnegat Bay, Great Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway,” the DEP noted.

Approximately 700,000 cubic yards of sand removed from the inlet was then placed on beaches and dunes from Ocean Street in Beach Haven south through the Holgate section of Long Beach Township, which sustained erosion during storms that occurred since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded a beach construction project that encompassed most of LBI.

Restoration work in Beach Haven and Holgate was finished on March 2, followed by demobilization and removal of equipment.

“We are very pleased that the project has been completed in time for the upcoming shore tourism and boating season,” said David Rosenblatt, the DEP’s assistant commissioner for engineering and construction. “This is an important project that served the two-fold purpose of repairing beaches and dunes to better protect communities on southern Long Beach Island from storms while clearing shoals that forced the Coast Guard last year to declare Little Egg Inlet unsafe for boating traffic.”

As the DEP explained, Little Egg Inlet is one of the widest inlets in the state, and is extremely dynamic, with shoals constantly shifting with the seasons. “The Coast Guard each year would use buoys to mark the deepest and safest natural route through the inlet,” a department press release noted. “Due to storms and currents, the channel in many places had become less than six feet below mean sea level, making navigation very difficult, especially when factoring in the rolling of waves in the ocean.

“In March 2017, the Coast Guard pulled buoys marking the channel due to concerns that build-up of sand in the channel had become too severe for safe passage of boats,” and warned boaters that use of the inlet would be at their own risk.

The DEP will ask the Coast Guard to mark the channel once again, now that it has been made safer.

As the department also pointed out, the dredging and beachfill project was designed to have “negligible-to-no impact on the nearby Holgate section of the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge or migrations of fish. The DEP worked closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the DEP’s Division of Land Use Regulation and Division of Fish and Wildlife to ensure protection of natural resources.”

For more information on the DEP’s Engineering and Construction Program, visit nj.gov/dep/ec. —J.K.H.

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