Surfers Deal a Blow to a Beach Dredging Project


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“The reefs here in this area, and the sand bars that attach to them, form these perfectly shaped waves,” he said. “When it’s good, it’s incredibly good.”

So when the Town of Palm Beach proposed a beach repair project that Mr. Gibson thought posed a threat to those prized breaks, he and other surfers challenged the project in court.

Last week they succeeded in blocking — at least temporarily, on environmental grounds — a strategy widely used against the beach erosion that threatens most of the nation’s coast and is accelerating as global warming fuels the rise of sea levels.

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In ruling against the project, the administrative law judge who heard the case, Robert E. Meale, criticized its potential environmental effects and denounced as “worthless” some of the engineering behind it. Advocates of the project, a sand-pumping effort known as beach nourishment, called the ruling misguided and said they feared that if it held up it would drive coastal towns to remedies that are more environmentally dangerous, like constructing seawalls or other coastal armor.