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LI Officials Want Bellport Inlet Created By Sandy To Remain Open

USGS Cheryl Hapke
National Park Service via AP
The shore off of Bellport, N.Y., one week after Superstorm Sandy. The opening in the center was created by the storm in the eastern strip of Fire Island that separates the Atlantic Ocean, upper right, from the Great South Bay.

Immediately after Superstorm Sandy, Long Island officials wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to close an inlet formed in Bellport on the Great South Bay.

The inlet was formed when storm surge during Sandy opened a passage between the ocean and the bay.

Now environmentalists and residents support a recommendation by the National Park Service to leave the inlet open.  

Groups like the Friends of Bellport Bay say not only does the inlet provide an outlet for a flood surge, it also promotes the growth of marine life that has all but disappeared in recent decades.

Thomas Schultz, who founded the Bellport group, says, “The ecosystem is alive and well, the food chain is alive and well. Larger fish are coming in from the ocean trying to catch the smaller fish. There have been whales spotted offshore at the inlet because of the nutrients flowing out of Bellport Bay. The seals are setting up residencies in the wintertime.”  

At a conference held on Saturday to discuss the future of the inlet, marine scientists asked the Corps to reevaluate its plan to fill in the Bellport Inlet.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.