Dune replenishment halting at Smith Point Park blasted by critics
The plan to replenish dunes to protect residents in Mastic Beach has been put on hold due to concerns over disrupting the habitat of an endangered species.
Two parts of the federal dune replenishment project were put on hold after the Audobon Society got a restraining order halting the project. They are concerned about piping plovers, a sparrow-sized shore bird that nests on the dunes.
Local and state officials are blasting the decision to put the dune project on hold, especially during hurricane season.
"I just hope we don't have a major nor'easter and that we get through hurricane season without another major event," said Mayor Bill Biondi.
The new dunes at nearby Smith Point Park would be 13 to 15 feet high and stretch about 20 miles.
The Audobon Society said in a statement, "These areas provide rare nesting and foraging habitat that is essential to the survival of the Atlantic Coast piping plover. The project as presently designed will destroy that habitat and further diminish the plover population which has been declining in recent years."