Equipment problems and brutal weather have combined to cause delay in the beach replenishment projects, but at this writing both dredges are in operation at Fire Island Pines. Weeks Marine (WMI) completed pumping sand in the Western Fire Island reach on Saturday and moved pipe and equipment to Fire Island Pines and Davis Park. The submerged pipeline (“sub-line” for short) is in place at the Pines and pumping began today with both dredges in operation as soon as the winds and high seas that accompanied the March 2 storm settled down. The sub-line that been used in the western reach will be taken directly to Davis Park (instead of to the central reach as planned) in order to be sure that the eastern-most community can be completed before any sign of Piping Plovers. An unexpected appearance by plovers could require the project to be shut down; most plover colonies are well east of the settled communities.
Both WMI dredges will be working in the Pines as the Davis Park site is prepared. Davis Park is only two-thirds the length of the Pines and there should be no trouble completing it by March 31, barring equipment breakdowns. As soon as Davis is completed the sub-line will be transferred to the central reach, where plover nesting has never been seen.
Winter weather is not conducive to beach building, but the risk to endangered species is too great to do it when seas are calmer (not to mention warmer). Had the project started in mid-November, as hoped, the March 31 completion date would not have been a problem. But permitting and bidding delays could not be avoided. WMI is working 24-7 to get the job done within the time allotted and has asked for the permit to be extended should that prove necessary.