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Contact: Paula Valentine, 631-687-4759
Patchogue, New York - Following the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Fire Island National Seashore prepares for the completion of more post-storm restoration work, while additional federal funding has been provided to extend research within the Seashore. These endeavors are expected to help restore facilities where they are most sustainable, and provide valuable information for future park planning and management decisions. "We've come a long way in the past year," said Seashore Superintendent Christopher Soller, "and welcome the means to further recover from the storm."
After the arrival of Sandy on October 29, 2012, the Seashore was able to open two facilities--the William Floyd Estate and the Wilderness Visitor Center--before Veterans Day weekend last year. "Funding for debris removal and initial emergency repairs allowed us to restore limited access to our lifeguarded beaches, marinas and campground by Memorial Day weekend this year," said Soller. Work on Sandy Recovery projects continued throughout the summer. Now that planning, compliance and design work for more complex projects is being completed and contracts are being awarded, the Seashore can continue its restoration of facilities and services. "This fall and winter, we expect to see the reconstruction of damaged boardwalks in the Fire Island Wilderness and around the Fire Island Lighthouse, repair of the Fire Island Lighthouse terrace and garage roof, dredging of the channels into Watch Hill and Sailors Haven, and the completion of several other smaller projects at Sailors Haven, Watch Hill, Talisman, and the William Floyd Estate," added Soller.
While most Seashore facilities were open this summer, one park partner was impacted not only by the effects of the storm, but also by pre-planned construction. The Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society (FILPS), which operates the Lighthouse under a cooperating association agreement with the National Park Service, re-opened as soon as parking was restored at Robert Moses State Park Field 5, on May 23, 2013. But FILPS had been unable to conduct tours and other interpretive programs inside the tower since the evening of October 27, 2012, the day before Fire Island was evacuated in advance of Hurricane Sandy's arrival. "A project to complete some long-awaited structural repairs at the Fire Island Lighthouse started last fall," said Seashore facility manager Jim Dunphy, "and was delayed by the storm." The contract for this project, which was planned and funded before the storm, included the repair of stair treads and other metal components of the original 1858 lighthouse and the repair of a crack in the tower's exterior cement coating. On October 21, 2013 the National Park Service authorized FILPS to reopen the Fire Island Lighthouse tower for tours.
On October 24, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel announced that $162 million will be invested in 45 restoration and research projects to protect Atlantic Coast communities from future storms, by restoring marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching the impacts and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts. On October 29, Jewell launched a $100 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. States, local communities, non-profit organizations and other partners can compete for funding for innovative projects under the program. Information can be found at https://www.doi.gov/hurricanesandy.
Fire Island National Seashore will benefit from three grants to the National Park Service and from grants to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) that fund additional research and monitoring. "Future park planners and managers will benefit from the results of these additional studies," said Soller, "as they provide a better understanding of Fire Island's natural resources and their response to storms and climate change."
For more information about Fire Island National Seashore and current programs, see "What's Happening This Week."
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