[Coral-List] Fw: Happy Birthday Coral-List, Politics and Beach Projects

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Fri May 30 13:14:11 EDT 2014

Unfortunately, this is a too common tale. "Success" is measured as a
comparison between the financial cost of the project and the financial
benefits of having the nourished beach in place. Aesthetic and ecological
values have no dollar amount attached to them and are effectively ignored.
Not having the time to look at the EAR more carefully, I am struck with
several things:

1) Sediments in the borrow area are too fine to stay on the beach. They are
offshore for one simple reason - they weren't stable on the beach.

2) The EAR treats "storm impacts" as separate from "project impacts". The
inference is that storms are natural aberrations unrelated to the project.
While they are natural, they are the primary agent by which "project
impacts" are created. Given the likelihood of increasingly severe storms in
the future, a) beach stability will be lower, and b) even coarser fill will
be required to make the beach stable in a regime of greater storm-wave
energy. This, of course, also ignores the fact that the sediment character
on the beach probably reflects stability under fair-weather conditions.
Thus, the sediments on the beach should bot be considered as something to
match but rather the finest materials that should be used (and none of the
analyzed sediments fit this description).

It is difficult to say much more than this without pre- and
post-nourishment comparisons of the benthic community related to the first
nourishment (I sense that this is "maintenance" fill - another
engineering-speak term that sounds more benign than "dumping sand on the
beach". Your email mentions the need for this and you are correct. This is
one area where the listserve folks might be able to comment in what would
be viewed as "objective" rather then "reactionary".

If the ACE was given a pass because they were confining nourishment to
"dry" areas, this is pretty bizarre. I don't think I ever saw that even in
the Virgin Islands where they were given a pretty free path. My sense is
that the only recourse here is forcing them to show that similar projects
or earlier versions of this one had no negative impact. Do these data
exist? How trustworthy is the firm that did the EAR?

Given that there is more that I do not know than what I do, any public
comment I might make would be no better informed than those of local divers
who see the area regularly - and they are going to be labeled as "biased"
This is a quandary that reef scientists often face. We can jump in because
we feel an injustice is being committed, but have to weigh the value of
being one more subjective voice in the protest versus the possible
lessening or our perceived objectivity when we weigh in on other projects
where were actually are "experts". I know this is a hard thing for some
folks to buy and it sounds like a cop-out, but my only value as an "expert"
when I was living in the Virgin Islands was that I was an active researcher
that knew the reefs and was careful to comment only when I really had
something to say. This might be personal familiarity with the area or
knowledge that the data in the EAR were severely flawed. Had I not taken
this path, I'd have been just more noise in the crowd.

If you are looking for advice, I'd say to demand hard data that show the
impacts will be what they say.... and they cannot discount things driven by
natural processes as being unrelated to the project (all it is doing is
providing the sand for those processes to move). If there is someone on the
list that knows this area well and can decide whether the assessment is
valid, they should jump in. Likewise, those of us who have been involved in
similar issues can serve as advisors. However, it would probably be unwise
for a lot of folks who don't know the area and the issues to jump in at the
last minute just to add their voice to the protest. In the long run, this
takes away from our ability to authoritatively comment where we do have
legitimate expertise. In any event, we need to make sure to identify
whether we are commenting as an "expert" (which I am not in this case) or
just another citizen (and, in my case, one that lives in land-locked Ohio).

Good luck in your fight. If there are any specific tasks I can help with,
I'll give it a try.


On Fri, May 30, 2014 at 8:59 AM, Cry of the Water <reefteam2 at yahoo.com>

> In Jim’s post May 23 he asked “But now, can we (including myself) tone
> down the rancor a bit and try to come up with some constructive steps we
> can implement to reduce coral reef decline? The following is a chance to
> reduce coral reef decline.  We like many in coral list are subscribers but
> seldom post. Living in South Florida where our reefs still have no
> management plan, we know and understand the politics of the reef.  We have
> not attempted to post every project that comes along and buried our reefs..
> However this one is special. It truly is the last of the best nearshore
> reef you can beach dive in Florida. It deserves the courtesy of having the
> most knowledgeable group of people on the subject of coral reefs and the
> things that effect them weigh in.
> Broward County staghorn coral is at risk from a massive truck haul beach
> project.
> Comments are due by June 14, a very short time
> Link for Broward Environmental Assessment (EA)
> http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/Planning/EnvironmentalBranch/EnvironmentalDocs/BrowardSegII_LRR_EA_14may2014.pdf
> More documents, drawing and plans are available at
> www.broward.org/BeachRenourishment/Pages/ProjectDocuments.aspx
> Below is a copy of the letter we sent out to the divers and fisherman who
> have a great deal of local knowledge. We would now like to present it to
> you, the experts on coral reefs. We hope you can find time to comment.
> Thank you
> Dan Clark
> Army Corp Issues Beach Renourishment Plan Destine to Smother Broward Coral
> Reefs
> Public comment period is now open!
> Plan will put almost 1 million cubic yards of sand on the beaches and
> reefs from Pompano and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to Ft. Lauderdale.
> If you are a local diver, fisherman or if you care about our coral reefs;
> if you want to see your grandchildren grow up to enjoy the reefs as you
> have this is your chance to speak up.
> We have all seen the impacts from past beach projects. Well this one may
> be the worst yet. At risk to be buried is the federally protected thickets
> of nearshore staghorn and elkhorn coral and juvenile green turtle forage
> habitat.
> We urge everyone who cares about our reefs and fisheries including the
> kids (never underestimate the impact of comments from the next generation)
> to send comments on the proposed project to the U.S. Army Corps of
> Engineers.
> Comment Period is only open until June 14, 2014. Send comments now!
> WHERE TO SEND COMMENTS: eric.p.summa at usace.army.mil   (Civil Works) and
> garett.g.lips at usace.army.mil  (Regulatory)
> We would appreciate it if you send a copy of your comments to us at
> reefteam2 at yahoo.com or call if you need more local information Dan Clark,
> (www.cryofthewater.com)   954-242-0327
> WHAT TO SEND: Here’s a sample letter (try to personalize).
> Ask that your comments be submitted to the official record of the
> Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSE)
> for the Broward County Segment II Shore Protection Project  (Civil Works)
> and SAJ-1999-05545  (Regulatory)
> RE: Request for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), General
> Reevaluation Report (GRR) and a Public Hearing for the Broward County Shore
> Protection Project
> This permit would allow Broward County to conduct beach renourishment
> projects in Segment II (Hillsboro Inlet to Port Everglades).  Place
> approximately 1 million cubic yards of fill (truck haul sand) on the
> beaches of Segment II. This is of particular concern because potions of
> Segment II (Ft. Lauderdale) have never had a beach project.  The reefs in
> Ft. Lauderdale start just off shore and have never been buried and
> smothered as have the reefs to the north and south.
>  We must learn from the impacts of past projects, one of the lessons we
> have learned is that when you place millions of cubic yards of sand on our
> beaches, you impact the reefs in front of them. It is time we stop burying
> the reefs that help protect the beach from impacts during storms.  The Army
> Corps has issued a FONSI, yet the permit application anticipates acres of
> reef and Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) will be buried and mitigation will be
> required.  This should disqualify this project from being reviewed under an
> EA and FONSI and require a more stringent review of this project.
> We must not allow the environmental review process to cut corners when it
> comes to protecting the last of the great nearshore reefs left in Florida..
>  There is no place else in the US where can you beach dive or snorkel off
> the beach and enjoy such a reef.  We owe it to the next generation to enjoy
> it as we have.
> Ft. Lauderdale holds an irreplaceable wealth of marine resources such as:
> •       Ancient corals, many hundreds of years old
> •       Thickets of  Endangered Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis
> •       Endangered Elkhorn Coral, Acropora palmata
> •       Enormous Gorgonian reefs
> •       Ledges with over 44% hard coral cover
> •       Endangered Pillar Coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus
> •       Essential Juvenile Fish Habitat. These habitats are an important
> part of the food web and support the different life cycles of many
> different species of fish. Their loss will have a cascading effect across
> the fisheries.
> •       Endangered green sea turtle grazing grounds. The nearshore shallow
> hardbottom is unique habitat where algae grows that the juvenile sea
> turtles relay on for food.  The burial of similar habitat up and down the
> coast makes this area vital to the survival to the species.
> The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) should undertake an Environmental
> Impact Statement (EIS), pursuant to 40 C.F.R. 1508.11 and a GRR prior to
> deciding whether or not to authorize the beach project in Segment II.
> An EIS would allow the public, as well as other agencies, an opportunity
> to comment and bring issues to the attention of the ACOE. Several
> significant issues are involved concerning the authorization in question.
>  Those issues include, but not limited to:
> •       Local divers are currently reporting the burial of nearshore reefs
> and hardbottom in Pompano Beach. The sand is coming from the recent ACOE
> Civil Works Project. The ACOE had claimed that there would be no impacts to
> the nearshore hardbottom and reef from this project because the sand was
> only being placed on the dry beach. For this reason this project was
> allowed to go on with a lesser environmental review then was needed. (See
> video of reef burial provided by local divers). There are several video’s
> documenting this problem:
> http://youtu.be/OjMzqh-JuQk,
> http://youtu.be/_AOgB7ahT_w,
> http://youtu.be/SdHSBDPUKA8,
> http://youtu.be/qaI11PJma2I.
> This is of concern because the sand used for this recent Army Corps Civil
> Works project shown in the videos is the same sand source proposed for use
> in the much larger Broward County project under review. The ACOE Civil
> Works project placed approximately 110,000 cubic yards of sand on the dry
> upland beach.  This new Broward County permit proposes to place
> approximately 1 million cubic yards of sand, much of it directly in the
> water, which will lead to greater reef burial and secondary impacts caused
> by silt, sediment and turbidity.
> •       This review process must consider the cumulative impacts such as
> chronic silt, sediment and turbidity causing secondary impacts along with
> direct burial.  Cumulative impact from not only this project but other
> projects in the area such as the 2005-2006 Broward County Dredge and Fill
> project, whose impacts have still have not been mitigated for.  These
> impacts need to be considered along with the (a) Hillsboro-Deerfield Dredge
> and Fill project that has not been mitigated for (b) the recent ACOE Civil
> Works project which is currently burying reef in Pompano Beach, that has
> not been mitigated for and (c) the proposed expansion of Port Everglades
> with its destruction of over 28 acres of reef and onsite dredging that may
> take as long as a year to complete. The Port Everglades project alone will
> put a large amount of silt and sediments into the system. As if this was
> not bad enough Broward County dumped over a million tires off shore Ft.
> Lauderdale in the
>  1970’s and those tires have now migrated from their dump site in 60 to 80
> feet of water and are now bouncing around on the Ft. Lauderdale reefs
> causing damage during every storm event.
> •       The Army Corps must look at the cumulative impacts from all of
> these projects past, present and proposed as well as water quality,
> diseases, rise in sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.  All of
> these factors must be considered when attempting to assess the anticipated
> impacts from Broward County Beach Project
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Additional information:
> Link for Broward Environmental Assessment (EA)
> http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/Planning/EnvironmentalBranch/EnvironmentalDocs/BrowardSegII_LRR_EA_14may2014.pdf
> More documents, drawing and plans are available at
> www.broward.org/BeachRenourishment/Pages/ProjectDocuments.aspx
> Cry of the Water
> P.O. Box 8143
> Coral Springs, FL  33075
> 954-753-9737
> www.cryofthewater.com
> --- On Fri, 5/23/14, Jim Hendee <jim.hendee at noaa.gov> wrote:
> > From: Jim Hendee <jim.hendee at noaa.gov>
> > Subject: [Coral-List] Happy Birthday Coral-List, Politics
> > To: "Coral-List" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> > Cc: "Lew Gramer" <Lew.Gramer at noaa.gov>
> > Date: Friday, May 23, 2014, 7:53 AM
> > On this day 19 years ago, Coral-List
> > began with about 100 members.
> > Today our numbers are 8,129.  I wonder why, out of all
> > these people who
> > appreciate and help to save coral reefs, there are mostly
> > only a handful
> > who contribute on a regular basis.  Speak up!
> >
> > As I reflect on the recent thread of politics and coral
> > reef
> > conservation, and some of us hammering each other, I can't
> > help but
> > notice what many already see as obvious, that we have met
> > the enemy, and
> > he is us (thank you Walt Kelly).  For some reason I let
> > these personal
> > attacks go on longer than I should have, but maybe it helps
> > to clear the
> > air.
> >
> > But now, can we (including myself) tone down the rancor a
> > bit  and try
> > to come up with some constructive steps we can implement to
> > reduce coral
> > reef decline?
> >
> > Thank you, and I hope you all have a nice weekend.
> >
> >     Your Coral-List Administrators,
> >
> >     Jim Hendee
> >     Mike Jankulak
> >     Lew Gramer
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Coral-List mailing list
> > Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> >
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Dennis Hubbard
Chair, Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
(440) 775-8346

* "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
 Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"

More information about the Coral-List mailing list