05.21.09

SCHUMER, BISHOP URGE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR TO ESTABLISH 30 DAY DEADLINE TO RESPOND TO ARMY CORPS' NEW FIMP REPORT - FURTHER DELAY OF 50-YEAR OLD SHORELINE PROTECTION PLAN THREATENS LONG ISLAND'S FRAGILE SOUTH SHORE

Army Corps' Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Draft Plan Expected to be Released in Early June As Threats to Long Island's South Shore Continue to Increase, Bureaucratic Stalemates That Have Plagued Project For Years Must Stop Schumer, Bishop: Long Islanders Deserve a Real Plan By the End of 2009

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Today, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop urged Department of Interior Secretary  Ken Salazar to establish a 30day interagency deadline to produce a response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' soontobereleased Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Draft Plan (FIMP) upon receipt of the report. As the threats to Long Island's south shore continue to grow - rapidly eroding beaches, disappearing protective dunes, and exacerbated coastal flooding - the historic bureaucratic stalemates that have plagued this project for years can no longer be tolerated, said the representatives.    

 

According to projections developed by Columbia University, the South Shore of Long Island could see a rise in sea levels as much as 7 inches by the year 2020.  Schumer and Bishop are encouraged by the news that the Corps has incorporated various new alternatives in the plan that highlight or include the threats of climate change and rising sea levels along the South Shore.  The representatives said that, "This moment is yet another crucial opportunity for the Department of Interior, which has statutory vetopower over the project, to step up to the plate and proactively work to protect Long Island."

 

"The federal bureaucracy can no longer fiddle while our precious South Shore beaches and barrieer islands erode away. Any further delay of this project will threaten the safety and viability of the entire way of life on the South Shore," Schumer said. "The DOI needs to cut the red tape, set real and immediate deadlines and commit to finalize a coastal restoration and protection plan that deals with the alltooreal concerns of the people who live, work, and play along the South Shore.  Step one is for the DOI to work with the Army Corps and establish this 30day deadline for a response  to their impending draft."

 

"This project is vital to Long Island's longterm sustainability," Bishop said. "We've had the finish line in sight for a long time, and we cannot afford for this process to stall, which is why Senator Schumer and I will continue to push for its completion."

 

In cooperation with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYS Department of State, the Corps has finetuned the new FIMP report in order to address the various principles outlined in the Fire Island Seashore's Vision Statement and the working group meetings conducted over the course of the past year. The Corps is expected to send the completed report plan to the Department of Interior for review during the first week of June, 2009.  

 

"As an example of what is not acceptable, a previous version of the Draft Reformulation plan, issued in November, 2006, went without a response until June, 2008.  That cannot be permitted to happen again," said Schumer and Bishop.   The representatives see completion of this systemwide project is imperative for the protection of Long Island residents and the environment.  Schumer and Bishop are demanding that DOI give the Corps report immediate attention and begin formulating a response as soon as possible.  Another twoyear wait period for a DOI response is unacceptable considering the alltooreal threats to Long Island's shoreline, Schumer and Bishop said. 

 

Without a formal endorsement of the FIMP plan from the Department of the Interior, the Corps' cannot develop the General Reevaluation Report and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for FIMP and return this project to a path towards completion.  This is why Schumer and Bishop are asking for an internal deadline of 30 business days from receipt of the Corps' draft plan to ensure a DEIS by the end of 2009. 

 

"Let Congressman Bishop and I be very clear:  DOI shouldn't even wait for the ink to dry on this new report," Schumer said. "We are calling for deadlines because the history of this project shows us that the bureaucracy won't work without them.  This is yet another opportunity in the decadeslong history of FIMP that the Department of Interior can step up to the plate and help protect Long Island's coastal communities." 

 

This project was first authorized by Congress in 1960.  Since then, Congress has appropriated over $30 million to complete the study. The Department of Interior must work expeditiously with the Army Corps to deliver on the federal government's massive investment in the protection of Long Island's historic south shore communities.  The people of Long Island deserve a plan that protects their homes and the environment.   

 

According to the Fire Island National Seashore's 1964 enabling legislation, the Interior Secretary must agree to a FIMP management plan that is mutually acceptable to the Army Secretary.

"The authority of the Chief of Engineers, Department of the Army, to undertake or contribute to shore erosion control or beach protection measures on lands within the Fire Island National Seashore shall be exercised in accordance with a plan that is mutually acceptable to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Army and that is consistent with the purposes of sections 459e to 459e9 of this title." 16 U.S.C. §459e7(a)

 

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Dear Secretary Salazar,

 

We write to urge you to establish a 30day interagency deadline to produce a response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' soontobereleased Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Draft Plan (FIMP).

 

As the threats to Long Island's south shore continue to grow - rapidly eroding beaches, disappearing protective dunes, and exacerbated coastal flooding - the historical bureaucratic stalemates that have plagued this project for years can no longer be the status quo.  We are encouraged by the Corps incorporation of various new alternatives in the plan that highlight or include the threats of rising sea levels along the South Shore as well as the adaptive management techniques preferred by your agency. 

 

In cooperation with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYS Department of State, the Corps has finetuned this new report in order to address the various principles outlined in the project's Vision Statement and the working group meetings conducted over the course of the past year.  This moment is yet another crucial opportunity for the Department of Interior, which has statutory vetopower over the project, to step up to the plate and proactively work to protect Long Island.

 

It is our understanding that the Corps will send the completed report plan to your department for review during the first week of June, 2009.  A previous version of the Draft Reformulation plan, issued in November, 2006, went without a response until June, 2008.  Completion of this systemwide project is imperative for the protection of Long Island residents and the environment.  It is our hope that your office will give the Corps report immediate attention.  Most importantly, an expeditious response is necessary to prevent any further delay of this project.

 

This project was first authorized by Congress in 1960.  Since then, Congress has appropriated over $30 million to complete the study.  In our estimation, five decades of work without a final product is far too long.  The Department of Interior must work expeditiously with the Army Corps to deliver on the federal government's massive investment in the protection of Long Island's historic south shore communities.  The people of Long Island deserve a plan that protects their homes and the environment.   

 

Without a formal endorsement of the FIMP plan from the Department of the Interior, the Corps' cannot develop the General Reevaluation Report and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for FIMP and return this project to a path towards completion.  Therefore we ask that you maintain an internal deadline of 30 business days from receipt of the Corps' draft plan to ensure a DEIS by the end of 2009.  Thank you for the consideration of our request, and we look forward to working with you to promptly finalize a coastal protection plan that benefits all the people of Long Island. 

 

Sincerely,

 

                                                                        Charles E. Schumer

                                                                        United States Senator

 

                                                                        Timothy Bishop

                                                                        United States Congressman



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