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After Decades, Shoreline Restoration From Fire Island To Montauk Inches Forward

Montauk Point Lighthouse
Kathy Kmonicek
Montauk Point Lighthouse

The town of Brookhaven has agreed to join a $1.5 billion federal project to protect Long Island against erosion and floods. It would include raising homes on the South Shore, from Fire Island to Montauk Point. Town officials wondered where residents would live during construction, but signed on anyway because the project has taken over 60 years to get funding.

“The Fire Island to Montauk Point project, known as FIMP, is an Army Corps project that has now been funded by Congress just this past year, which means that the funding for the initial construction is all in place. This project has been going on for many, many decades since the Eisenhower administration,” said Alison Branco, New York coastal director at The Nature Conservancy.

FINP is the only plan right now to protect these communities against sea level rise and climate change, according to Suzy Goldhirsch, president of the Fire Island Association, which represents communities on the barrier island.

“The FIMP includes many different options for working together in a regional relationship, where we are not in silos, about how we can all work together to manage sea level rise and climate change,” Goldhirsch said.

Babylon, East Hampton and Southampton towns have already signed the agreement to restore the 83-mile coast line. Islip is expected to sign on soon.

The Army Corp said it's up to residents to volunteer to raise their homes. Project supporters said residents could have to pay to find alternative housing, but it will be better than losing everything to the next storm.

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.