Thursday, August 28, 2008

Surfrider Trial Hearing Kicks off Monday August 25

PALM BEACH August 25th- After three years of strenuous work to protect the historic surfing, diving and fishing areas near the Lake Worth Pier, the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation goes to court over the Department of Environmental Protection’s and Town of Palm Beach’s planned $15 million dredge-and-fill project. The trial starts Monday at 9am at the Town of Palm Beach, Emergency Operations Center, 355 South County Road, Palm Beach, Florida. The trial will go from August 25 through 29, September 2 through 6, and Sept 8 to 12, 2008.

This is the first time in US history that a beach fill project will be challenged in court. The Chapter is joined by the Snook Foundation and 3 individual local plaintiffs. The Snook Foundation is dedicated to protecting Florida’s Essential Fish Habitat. Tom Warnke, Terry Gibson and Danny Barrow are local watermen who grew up fishing, surfing and diving in this area. Mr. Warnke is the District Director of the Eastern Surfing Association’s Palm Beach County District, Mr. Gibson is Fishing Editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine, & Capt. Barrow is a longstanding fishing charter operator. In addition, the Eastern Surfing Association and the adjacent City of Lake Worth have joined as interveners in the case to support protecting these priceless environmental and recreational assets.

The intent of the Surfrider and Snook Foundation suit is to stop a project permit which threatens to destroy valuable and irreplaceable near-shore ecosystem and is not in the public’s interest. The project is expected to surround the Pier area with poor-quality, silty dredged material. Lake Worth's pier fishing, along with its world-renowned diving reefs in the northernmost area of the Caribbean's coral reef ecosystem, would be severely harmed, and at least six surfing peaks would be damaged.

The Chapter had offered the Town possibly the best collection of minds in the Country in coastal science, to explore the most sustainable and cost-effective ways to manage the region’s coastal resources with no avail. These experts will now be defending the Chapter and include the following:
Dr. Charles Peterson, Duke University
Dr. Hal Wanless, University of Miami
Dr. Orrin Pilkey, Duke University
Dr. Mike Salmon, Florida Atlantic University
Dr. Kenyon Lindeman, Florida Institute of Technology
Dr. Robert Young, Western Carolina University
Dr. Randy Parkinson, RWP Consultants, Inc.
Dr. Richard Weisskoff

A visit to Phipps Ocean Park just north of the project area shows the outcome of where $8 million was spent “nourishing” a stretch of beach. Within two years the reef rock, fine sands and silt the consultants guaranteed as “beach compatible” is mostly gone. This outcome also includes nearshore reefs that are near dead, turbidity remains a chronic issue for corals and the fishing/surfing resources and the revenue at the Lake Worth beach/pier are negatively affected. The Reach 8 project promises more of the same short comings.

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