25 million people – one out of every eleven inhabitants of the United States - live within 50 miles of the 127 miles of the open ocean coast of New Jersey. Coastal tourism contributes billions of dollars to the state every year. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on moving millions and millions of cubic yards of sand around to “restore” the coast, and the state’s fund for continuing to do so stands at $25 million a year.
Does this make sense? I have ranted a little in previous posts about “beach nourishment,” demographics, and the rights of folk to live in some of the most unstable environments on the planet while others (and the environment) pay dearly for their privilege. Being somewhat pressed this week, I will simply refer you to an excellent piece from the Earth Institute at Columbia University that addresses the issues around nourishment versus “managed retreat” in dealing with the insistence of shorelines – specifically those of New Jersey - to change. See also the report of a Beach Erosion Workshop from the USACE Philadelphia District Coastal Planning group, “Beach Nourishment: The New Jersey Experience” (which includes an entertaining section titled “Unexpected consequences”), a summary of New Jersey’s shore protection program, and extensive articles on beach nourishment from Coastal Care.
I would also recommend whiling away an enjoyable hour or two examining the offerings of Google Earth’s historical imagery along new Jersey’s coast – for example, Hereford Inlet, just up the coast from Cape May and a playground of shifting sand, in 1995, 2006, and 2010: