DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. -- A $1.5 million congressional appropriation
gave Dauphin Island a positive surge Monday in its efforts to shore
up its precarious west end.
The money sought by U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, will fund a study
of stabilizing beach erosion.
The study, headed by Scott Douglass, a professor at the University
of South Alabama and a noted coastal engineer, will go a long way,
both men said Monday, in addressing erosion problems that plague
U.S. Congressman Joe Bonner, R-Mobile, "Dauphin
Island's role shielding coastal areas from the brunt of storms
is one that we can no longer afford to take for granted."
"Dauphin Island's role in shielding coastal areas from the brunt
of storms is one that we can no longer afford to take for granted,"
The island serves as a natural shield for south Mobile County by
reducing high water and wave intensity during major storms.
If this protection were to be jeopardized, so too would be that
for estuaries, marshes, oyster beds and inland homes and development,
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said.
The west end breach has been cited by fishermen as one of the causes
of higher salinity in the Mississippi Sound, leading to an increase
in predatory snails -- oyster drills -- that have decimated area
oyster reefs, Collier said.
Bonner said that action to rebuild the natural barrier and stabilize
erosion was a good investment for people of the island and coastal
areas of the county.
"We cannot control the frequency or intensity of future storms,
but we can better utilize natural protections, such as our barrier
islands, to lessen the severity of local destruction," he said.
The study will consider beach nourishment as an answer, Douglass
said, pointing out that both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have succeeded
in stabilizing their coastlines through sand replenishment.
The congressional funding, Douglass said, will help determine whether
such beach nourishment can solve some of the island's problems.
Douglass said he envisions one solution incorporating "large amounts
of sand -- millions of cubic yards" being taken from deposits now
sitting in huge quantities offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, not far
south of the island.
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